August 5, 2010…a mine in Chile collaspes…thirty three men…over 2000 feet below the earth’s surface…700,000 tons of rock…
There was no indication initially that they survived. Days passed by. And then…hope.
Seventeen days after the collapse, a drill bit, after plunging 2,260 feet below the surface, hits a cavernous space deep inside the mine. When it is returned to the surface, a note was attached. It read: “Estamos bien en el refugio los 33,” or “we are fine in the refuge, all 33 of us.”
For the first 17 days, the men lived on two days worth of rations…with no communication from above…no way of knowing if they would be found in time…
I can not imagine the range of emotions the men and their families must have experienced. It is said that days after the collapse, wooden crosses began appearing near the mine entrance. That ambulances and other emergency equipment slowly made their way down the road, leaving behind the families to watch their exit in despair. No one thought they would be found alive.
To be stuck in a confined area would be a nightmare to anyone. Add to it the depth of the mine and the knowledge that the men had…they knew what the odds were that they would not survive. They were miners. They lived with that knowledge everyday. Men go into the mine…mine collapses…men die.
And yet…they survived. Not only because they were found alive 17 days after the collapse. Not only because they carefully rationed their food. They survived because they believed they would. They focused on surviving, not dying. They kept a positive attitude. They encouraged each other.
“We had strength, we had spirit, we wanted to fight, we wanted to fight for our families, and that was the greatest thing,” one of the miners was quoted as saying after emerging from the rescue capsule.
They told the media that they passed the time praying together…singing uplifting songs…speaking words of encouragement to each other.
Such powerful images…
I think of all the times in my life I have likened to being in a pit, in the depths of despair. In my mind, I can relate to the feeling of being trapped…of not knowing when or where help will come from. Of looking around and seeing nothing but darkness. Feelings of isolation and fear…of hopelessness.
Even as Christians, we have a tendency to look at our situation instead of looking beyond it to the one who can deliver us from it. We forget that we are not alone; that God is with us, no matter what our circumstances are.
Nineteen year old Jimmy Sanchez, one of the 33 Chilean miners, stated in a letter sent up from the mine, “There are actually 34 of us, because God has never left us down here.”
God has never left us…do you feel that way? Do you feel God’s presence or are you stumbling in the darkness, looking for a way out?
Cry out to him…let him know your innermost heart. He’s waiting to deliver you from the depths of darkness.
Lessons from the depths of the earth?
Pray; not just once, but continually. Stay in constant contact with God.
Surround yourself with positive people; people who will encourage and support you. People of a like-minded faith who will pray with and for you.
Believe. Know God’s word and his promises. Cling to them; make them your own.
“I have been with God and with the devil. I fought between the two. I seized the hand of God, it was the best hand. I always knew God would get us out of there.” ~~Mario Sepulveda, 40, the second miner rescued.