The world watched, waited and prayed for this result: Thailand's Navy SEALs, who were central to the rescue effort, said on their Facebook page that the remaining four boys and their 25-year-old coach were all brought out safely Tuesday. Eight of the boys were rescued by a team of Thai and international divers on Sunday and Monday. "We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave," the SEALs said, referring to the name of the boys' soccer team. "Everyone is safe." The praying world responded: Indeed, it was a miracle!
As I think about the rescue, it was a miracle in so many ways. Twelve young soccer players were trapped in a cave in Thailand for 18 days. The world was mesmerized, holding collective breaths as we awaited the outcome. At church on the Sunday the rescue was underway, people greeted each other with, “They have four of them out of the cave.” We all knew about what the people were speaking; and I began to count miracles.
First, the players were missed and the search was begun. Second, the rains were not as bad as they could have been. Third, the people who needed to plan the rescue did. Fourth, there was bravery that put service above self, with individuals casting their own safety to the wind in the quest to bring each and every member of the soccer team out alive. Fifth, the miracle of ingenuity was at work as the SEALs strategized and innovated in order to deal with unbelievable obstacles. They kept their heads and made reasonable plans, not panic-driven actions. Sixth, the world that is so diverse and so divided on so many issues found common ground for humanitarian reasons. Groups that would barely speak to each other were willing to join forces to focus upon the needs of the players and their coach in their time of need. To the same end, the goal was a common goal, and everyone would win when people were saved.
I was reminded of the bonding power of crisis and the breaking of barriers that a real emergency can effect. I grieved that we have become adept at manufacturing crises and screaming that the sky is falling and the wolf is coming when much of our screaming is in our heads and a tool to have our way. The true miracle and hope are that we have not been so desensitized to real crisis that we do not respond in an appropriate way. My fear, in the climate of our nation and world, is that we will lose the compassion and ability to care enough to understand when something really needs to be done. People called upon God, understanding the need for Divine intervention. Many prayed, and God heard the prayers. It was a miracle that used science along with the goodness and skills of others.
I was reminded of one additional thing: most often, in any kind of salvation—albeit from a cave, a bad situation in life, hopelessness, grief or sin and death—someone gives his/her life for someone else. In this case, it was a SEAL who ran out of oxygen while delivering it to those who needed it. In some cases, people die to ambitions, ideas, goals, power and self in order to save someone else. Sometimes we simply have to understand that the salvation of others is far more important than our promotion and power. In the case of Jesus, He gave His life for us to live. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:8).
What was too great a price for the SEAL? He decided it was worth the risk to save the soccer players and their coach. He died a hero . . . and the team and coach were saved. Jesus died that we might live. When will we be willing to die to self for others to live? No, the sky is not falling. No, the wolf is not coming. The real danger is that we will be blind and deaf to something real that needs our sacrificial service . . . and miss the chance to save others. May God save us from this.