Recently, the world was transfixed watching as 12 boys and their soccer coach were trapped in a northern Thailand cave, uncertain of the outcome. Initially, a rescue looked impossible, and an early attempt took the life of one Thai SEAL. But the group was eventually rescued, and what looked like a hopeless situation turned out to be a miracle story.
I was on a scuba diving trip in Tahiti during that news story and experienced what could have been a devastating event in my own life. I headed out on a beautiful summer day with a group of experienced divers. Our dive group descended into the ocean next to a channel of water that fed into an atoll. An “atoll” is a narrow coral reef that often forms a lagoon making them some of the best places to see aquatic life. There was indeed an abundance of small fish there but what drew us to the spot were sharks, manta rays, barracuda, turtles, and dolphins. This particular reef is considered one of the top diving spots in the world but it can also be treacherous because of its currents and surface swells. In fact, the surface swells were so high it is difficult for a small boat to navigate in, which is why it attracted the dolphins who playfully jumped and rode the waves to our delight.
We dove during a slack tide because even below the enormous surface swells there is a constant underwater current (what divers refer to as a drift tide) that pushes you along. We dropped into the ocean where the surface water wasn’t so violent. The plan was to let the drift tide push us toward the channel ending our dive before the dangerous swells. However, our best-laid plans didn’t happen.
The dive was an incredible experience, but when I came up with my diving partners, we were in the middle of the fast-moving currents and the dive boat was being tossed up and down, so it would be a challenge to get back safely inside. I was low on air and the only way for us to board the boat was to swim against the current into calmer waters outside the channel. For me, it seemed dauntingly impossible.
So when the dive boat pulled away from us I was gripped with fear knowing my swimming skills. But I had to stay calm, think, act fast, and pray. For me, what began as a problem now was rapidly turning into a dilemma. Would I have the strength and ability to fight the waves and keep swimming? As I asked myself that very question, another powerful wave crashed over the top of me and pulled me under the surface.
But I believe God had his hand on us because just as the boat backed away someone had the foresight to throw us a rope. The three of us grabbed onto it letting the boat slowly drag us out of the enormous swells. That rope was our lifeline and the decision that I believe turned the ordeal around. But even holding onto the rope it took enormous effort and strength. I knew if I let go I’d be back into the raging current in an instant. The minutes seemed like hours.
When you are in the middle of a battle and holding on, waiting for relief seems to take an eternity. We were all able to get out of the dangerous current and back into the boat, but God has reminded me as I reflect on the incident, that this story and these lessons are ones that I can learn from. I know I will be a stronger diver in the future because of them.
Have you ever faced a devastating incident that made you stronger?
Uncertainties in life can be devastating, and we can choose to let them defeat us, or we can grow stronger. Surviving any trauma helps you gain wisdom and even more important, become instruments of hope to others. Our uncertain world is not the one that will be our eternal destination but one that we must endure until Jesus returns or death takes us to the Kingdom He’s promised us in His Word. We must trust and position ourselves so that we can be purveyors of love, peace, and ultimately become fear fighters in a world that is suffering in an epidemic of defeat.
Can we as believers stand courageously on His promises, recover and bring hope to others? Fear can be conquered. In fact, Paul tells us in Romans 8:37 that we are “more than conquers” because Jesus has conquered all pain, death and destruction when we trust Him.
Here’s some key things to remember the next time you face an uncertain situation:
When uncertainties happen choose to stay calm because the answers aren’t always easy.
When uncertainties happen it will call for an inner strength you may not even know you have. That will make it possible to do the impossible.
When uncertainties happen you will have to fight physically, emotionally and spiritually.
When uncertainties happen we have to trust others who may be more skilled and knowledgeable.
When uncertainties happen your preparation may not be enough, because they often require a higher authority who’s always in control.
No matter how bad it gets for you, just remember that a rope it on its way.
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31