What were you doing August 23rd? It was a Monday if that helps. I was settling in at work waiting for a file to download and navigated to the New York Times (NYT) website to ease into the workweek as I sipped on my cup of coffee. Since I live in a self-imposed, cable-less bubble and August 2010 was particularly busy for me, I read the NYT and learned for the first time about the Chilean miners’ incident. On August 22nd, the drilling teams made initial contact with the men. On August 23rd, my chin hit my desk. It whacked the desk again and again as I read that the men had survived underground for 17 days and that the best projections from experts anticipated that they would be able to rescue the 33 men no sooner than Christmas (142 days since the initial collapse).
I am not a big fan of space or deep sea exploration. Watching the IMAX film about the discovery of the Titanic in the third grade made me queasy. The fact that the pressure per square inch in the deep blue sea can be so significant that it could bend a human in half 1,000 times over is ridiculously scary to me. If we ever get to the point where the United Federation of Planets is pulling in starships down to Earth so we can flee to Mars, I’ll be staying put. I’ve always liked earth and by that, I mean land. Reading about the Chilean miners trapped more than a mile underground led me to refine my preference: I like earth, and by that, I mean being on top of land. In consideration of all of these preferences, it would be an understatement to say that I was distraught for the miners. I can barely wait for Amazon’s 3-5 day standard shipping. How would these men last for 142 days underground – just waiting for something that might not happen?
Well, in my infinite wisdom and maturity, I “forgot” about the miners. No sooner had I read about their plight than I fell back in my normal routine about being annoyed over trivial things like Glee not issuing an album to accompany the start of the second season and rejoicing in finding 3 gallon compost bags at Target (the 2 gallon bags really are too small). My prayers were consumed with requests for “easy” work weeks, manageable traffic, and for Howard Schultz to extend the Starbucks treat receipt promotion for just a few more weeks.
A couple weeks ago, my casual perusal of NYT again led me to a story about the miners. This time, however, there was good news! One of the drills (evidently there were three of them?) had made it through the layers of rock and matter and the rescue was considerably ahead of schedule. With the announcement of good news and the perceived assurance that a successful rescue was in the bag, I was glued to the developing story. I read about the families who had camped out for the 68 days since the mine’s collapse creating a place called Camp Hope. I learned that experts from around the world had joined forces to care for and rescue the men underground. With the promise of success, I was able to invest in the rescue filled with hope. On October 12th, when the miners began to emerge from the mining shaft, I was visiting the NYT’s website hourly announcing the count of the rescued men.
Finally, at 6:30 PM, I was able to hit “refresh” and see that all men had been rescued safely.
At the time, I remember praising Jesus for all that He had done. I thanked Him for creating the earth even though it had caved in on the miners. I thanked him for the miners’ perseverance as they waited without contact for the 17 days not knowing if they would be found and then waited 68 days waiting for their rescue. I thanked Jesus for designing us to have families and for those who had prayed, hoped, and encouraged their loved ones. I thanked Him for giving men and women wisdom and for blessing all of the parties involved for their brilliance and diligence in expediting the rescue mission. I thanked Jesus for money and for it being readily available to bring the men to safety. Lastly, I thanked Jesus for the communication mediums He blessed the world with so that we could watch and wait and rejoice together as each man emerged.
One thing that I did not immediately thank Jesus for but want to now is for patience. I am so thankful that the Chilean miners had the patience to hope for a rescue. It was something that I didn’t have between August 23rd and October 9th, the period of time when I fell back in the world populated solely by me. It’s not something I have most of the time when life’s events don’t coincide with my timeline. While the current media has come up with infinite lists of “lessons learned” from the Chilean mining incident, the most significant thing that I have picked up is that “good odds” or “promising prospects” cannot be the kindling for hope. Instead, it’s someone much bigger than that and that someone is Jesus.
Romans 8:24/ Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.