Like so many other people, I spent the day yesterday checking the progress of those 33 men who were trapped in a Chilean mine for more than two months.
I tried to imagine what it what like for them on that fateful day back in August when they heard the rumbling rocks and the crashing. Did everything go dark at that moment or did their headlamps still work? Were they all together in one area or did they have to search throughout the mine, calling out names, counting off to try to determine who had survived.
What next? What was that first hour like? Then the next and the next? Day and night surely blended together into long hours that seemed like they would never end. How did they survive the first 17 days when no one knew they were alive?
One day in the darkness would have seemed like forever. I can’t imagine the hopelessness of 17. They must have banded together to try to keep a positive attitude. But, surely there were moments when one or more of the men burst into a panic attack convinced they would never again see the light of day. Buried alive. Could anything possibly be worse than that?
Did they cry out in unison, “Why ME?!?” Or were they somehow able to keep their hope alive even on day 16 when certainly they were losing energy from surviving on only bites of food and sips of water. How did they sleep? Where did they go to use the bathroom? How horrid was the smell?
But what if they had known, for a fact, without a doubt that on Oct. 13 a rescuer would arrive? A savior would descend in a capsule into that pit. Someone living a normal life on the surface would risk his life to save theirs?
In fact, scientists and experts a half-mile above their tomb would actually invent a system to rescue them. If they could have known that on Day 1 or Day 2, can you imagine how much easier it would have been to go on? Not knowing the outcome, how many times must they have wished for death to just come quickly?
As I have been thinking about those amazing men, what they went through and what lies ahead, I have been thinking of so many other people in my life who are trapped right now in a black hole of life.
They have lost their homes.
Their marriage is a struggle.
They have an illness for which there seems to be no cure.
Their child is sick with an incurable disease.
Their days are probably full of those , “Why, ME?!?” moments. I can’t even imagine the doubt that creeps in. And many times I have sat with my mouth open as they ask over and over again, “Why doesn’t God make this stop?”
The truth is, we live in a fallen world that is full of evil. Earthquakes wipe out cities. People get diseases. Relationships are difficult. Mines collapse.
God does not promise to make all of the pain and suffering go away. But he does promise to walk through it with us. He does promise that we don’t have to go through it alone.
I can’t imagine the joy and rejoicing the day a drill bit made its way through one-half mile of rock and a tiny ray of light burst through the darkness where those Chilean miners had been waiting for 17 long days. Could they possibly have held out hope for that long? Or had they finally given up and decided to huddle against the rock wall and fade into sleep, waiting for the end to come?
They still had 52 days to go. Fifty-two days. Now the care packages were dropped down into the mine. They were able to make contact with their love ones. And when the panic attacks set in, surely they would focus their eyes on that light from above.
And sometimes that hope is all we have. The light might seem small and dim. We get tiny “care packages” from someone who crosses our path.
But there is hope. There is a rescuer who has come into the darkness of our lives. And although it sometimes seems like the pain goes on longer than anyone can possibly bear, we aren’t alone.
I love the words to this song by Jesus Culture, “Your Love Never Fails”:
Nothing can separate
Even if I ran away
Your love never fails
I know I still make mistakes
But You have new mercies for me everyday
Your love never fails
You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning
And when the oceans rage
I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me
Your love never fails
The wind is strong and the water’s deep
But I’m not alone in these open seas
Cause Your love never fails
The chasm is far too wide
I never thought I’d reach the other side
But Your love never fails