There was a story in the news last week about three boaters in Texas who spent eight days surviving in the Gulf of Mexico after their catamaran capsized. Through their ordeal they dealt with hunger, oppressive heat, dehydration, sharks, even hallucinations.
Now let’s stop and pause there for a second.
Just try to imagine going a full week – all seven days – clinging to a floating piece of debris, trying to keep a level head, fighting off doubt and fear and the only thing on your Day Planner’s “to do” list is to hope someone, anyone, finds you and your two buddies.
Sounds like a movie, doesn’t it? But this was real. And got more “real” than most people could ever imagine. Because according to one of the survivors, Tressel Hawkins, “It was on a day-to-day basis that everybody had their breakdown.” He then added, “The power of prayer had us feeling safe as far as knowing that we were going to make it out of it, but [we] didn’t know how long that we were going to have to endure this.”
It’s hard for me to fathom that. Honestly. Being out on the open ocean for days with only small rations of food, very little drinking water and dealing with continuous threats of sunstroke, exhaustion and sharks circling your boat. Yet feeling safe. That you knew you would make it out of it. Because you knew – soul deep – it was just a matter of time before God rescued you.
Wow, that’s white knuckle faith. With a whole lotta trust thrown in as well. Which is why this story continues to inspire me even as I re-read it days later. Because for a lot of us, we’re dealing with our own “capsized boat” in life. A job situation is “less than stellar”. The dreams you were certain you would achieve by now seem more out of reach than ever. The hopes you had for retirement have gone up in flames. An addiction you’ve wrestled with for decades just won’t leave you alone. And on and on it goes.
It’s with those struggles in mind I bring up Romans 5:2-5 which reads, “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
I don’t know if those guys knew this verse while they were stranded at sea, but they certainly know how to live in it, especially through the hardest ordeal of their life. And in times when it feels like you’re just clinging on to something, just hoping to be rescued, I hope you can live those words as well. Times when you go through your own breakdowns, only to have God lift you back up, dust you off and set you back on your feet again. And times when you’re not sure when you will be rescued, but there’s no doubt that God is providing for you and will send you a lifeline.
So this week I’d encourage you to jot down that Bible passage, paste it on your refrigerator, your computer at work, or prop it on your bathroom mirror. And repeat the part of the passage that simply says, “hope does not disappoint us”. After all, it is through God whom we can find our true hope. Courage. And faith to carry on.
And know this, He will rescue you. It may take longer than you think it should. Or not even happen how you want it to play out. But know He has got you in the palm of His hand and hears your cries. And is planning for His own rescue mission designed especially for you.
“Hope does not disappoint”. Not for three guys from Blessing, Texas. Or for you.