The wonderful pictures as the miners in Chile were finally brought to the surface were historic and moving. After 69 days of uncertainty, their emotions at being reunited with loved ones and passion for their country were combined with gratitude to the rescue team and each other. The oldest miner, Mario Gomez, spent some time on his knees thanking God, and Marcela Reygadas, another of the miner’s daughters had also written a few days before:
This sad experience has helped my family to be even more united. We now appreciate the small things in life, like the neighbour or friend who offers help or some words of encouragement. We have also remembered that God is here with us.
The camp where the relatives had been waiting was called Esperanza, or Camp Hope, and another of the miners chose to call his new-born daughter Esperanza, who was born while the miners were underground. Hope is a very powerful thing, and together with the unity of the miners, their families and the rescue workers it must have been what kept them going.
There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
A consolation strong against despair,
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit,
I find the Saviour there!
This reminds me of what Marcela wrote above; that even in the midst of the ordeal, God was there with them. Part of the amazing sacrifice of Jesus was to come down from heaven and suffer as a human being, able to sympathise and understand all our weaknesses and struggles (Hebrews 4). Even more than that though, if we believe that Jesus died for us then he has rescued us and restored us into a relationship with God the Father.
The last verse of the ‘There is a Hope’ song above talks about our eternal hope: that one day all suffering and sorrow will end and that we will know true joy in reaching our heavenly home. For Christians, even death is not a defeat or tragedy, since we believe there is a better life to come. I think it’s important to pray for healing and release from suffering, and I know that sometimes God does intervene miraculously, whether to heal whiplash or restore a part of a baby’s brain (and I’d thoroughly recommend a testimony shared by my friends Zac and Sarah here under 26 Sept about Zac’s car accident and the birth of their premature twins).
Other times when we find ourselves in a pit of despair, God doesn’t seem to rescue us. I know many friends who struggle with depression and have had dark times myself when I doubted whether God cared at all. When we can’t find much hope at all, maybe that’s when we have to draw strength from others around us, and support one another to hold on and wait. All the skills the miners had could not get them out – in fact making an attempt to dig would have likely caused collapse and injuries or death. They had to wait – to trust that others would work to free them and to encourage each other to keep hope. Sometimes it takes a long time. (Psalm 40)
Postscript – I’m not the only one quoting Psalm 40 on this one. Thanks to John Jones for a link to an interview with the Chilean president’s chaplain, Rev Cooper.