In 538 sq feet of living space, deep inside the earth, 33 men await the light. Half a mile underground, Esteban Rojas proposed to the love of his life…his wife of 25 years, again. Below 2300 ft of rock, Ariel Ticona saw his beautiful baby girl, Hope, for the first time. The Chilean miners, who have spent the last 9 weeks in an open space in the collapsed mining shaft, have clung to one another, their families, news from the outside, and their faith, to help them hold out hope for rescue.
They get food and drink and other comforts of home sent down 4 in. tubes called “carrier pigeons” though, they were quick to explain their lack of beans to accompany meat and rice – would you want 33 men in such a small space ingesting the musical fruit? I thought not. I cried no less than three times just reading the most recent cnn.com article about the collapse, here, but I’m the sniveling, messy sort of reader, so your reaction might be different. When they started talking about the men doing chores and taking on roles (like nurse and spiritual advisor and troubadour and social director) I thought about how LIFE begins when we stop waiting for death.
They call the rescue base Camp Esperanza. For those of you who don’t know, Messiah Lutheran Church operates a Camp Esperanza, too, only, we translate that into English: Camp Hope. What happens at Camp Esperanza/Hope? Needs are met. Darkness dissipates. Shaving Cream fights settle age-old (3 week) rivalries. Okay, maybe that’s not EXACTLY what’s going on in Chile, but it certainly happens at Messiah.
Hope sustains. Hope is projected Faith. Hope is the refusal to allow human diagnoses and prognostications to trump divine might and intervention. I think hope makes the world laugh at us. I’m willing to have them point and laugh, because I’ve seen the results of hope.
My sister was 8 months old when she developed a bone infection the doctors said would keep her from walking. She spent one month in the hospital, having nurses and doctors poking, sticking, checking and re-checking her. In that time, hope kept my parents going. Hope lifted them up to pray for complete healing. Hope and faith encouraged others to pray for Brooke, and she stood for the first time in her hospital bed. One month, and the infection was gone. One month, and what was supposed to have crippled her, disappeared. One month, and God fulfilled our Hope.
I still don’t understand why some are healed and some are not. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. I don’t get what makes the difference between life and death. I have hope that when all is said and done, I will gain an understanding. Today, one of the dear sisters at the church in which I grew up, will be laid to rest. She was supposed to make a full-recovery from her surgery, but God called her home. I know there were prayers. I offered them, too. I hope for her family’s peace and solace at this time. Hope is not diminished by tragedy like this. Instead, I think the Hope of heaven is sweeter for them, now.
From a Biblical perspective, we should “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that Hope in the Lord,” (Ps. 31:24), like Abraham, who, “against all hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations” (Rom. 4:18) because we are all “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13).
My situation is not nearly so dire as the miners. I have no money, but I have love. I have some physical ailments, but I have life. I can open my window, open my eyes, and I have light. I have everything I need, even if I don’t have everything I want. My Hope is in the Lord my God.