Have you ever been in a situation which has felt completely helpless, where you can’t see how you are going to get out of that situation? How have you responded to that situation?
This term we are going to return to look at the school’s values, but we are going to specifically look at people who have demonstrated those values. This week, we will be considering faith.
On 10th August 2010 there were 33 miners doing their job in Chile when the mine collapsed on top of them. The miners were still alive, but they were trapped, they couldn’t get out, 700 metres underground and they only had enough food to last a few days. If you were in that situation what would you do? How would you respond?
José Henriquez gathered that group of 33 together and he started to pray. This is what he says…
“That first day was catastrophic. It was terrible; very difficult for every one of us. First, we heard an explosion, and then rocks started falling. There was a cloud of dust that lasted for about three or four hours.
“We had no light; we had no water; we had nothing in those first few hours. We only had enough food for three days; there was a lot against us. But we organised ourselves and we began to pray.”
Was prayer your response to the question ‘what would you do if you were in that situation?’ Probably not. So why did José respond in that way? I imagine he felt there was nothing else that could be done, but he had faith that he could pray and that God would hear those prayers and respond to those prayers. He didn’t just pray on his own, he became the pastor for the group, and they prayed together.
After 69 days the rescue mission was completed and all 33 miners were rescued, none of whom had any long-lasting medical problems. There is no way that they could have known that they would survive that long but one man’s faith, gave faith and hope to the others.
What can we learn from Jose? We will often find ourselves in places where we think ‘this is impossible’ ‘there is no way out’ – it may be an actual physical trap, but it is more likely to be a task we are completing, a friendship issue, or feeling overwhelmed by everything going on. How do we respond? We can pray. Many would argue that prayer is pointless… so why do it? There have been many studies into the power of prayer for those who are ill. It has been found that those that pray are calmer in hospital, more ‘at peace’, they don’t necessarily get better miraculously but their time in hospital is less challenging.
Why is this? Whether they are praying on their own, or whether they ask others to pray for them, they are sharing the suffering that they are enduring. It is no longer something that they are going through in their own. José didn’t just go off to a corner of the mine and pray on his own, he encouraged the others to pray alongside him.
Prayer is an active way of demonstrating faith. Faith that we are not on our own, but that there is a greater being, watching over us, listening to us. José’s faith would have given a glimmer of hope to the others.
Sometimes a glimmer is all we need, after all the parable associated with this value is the parable of the mustard seed. The mustard seed being the smallest of all seeds, grows into an amazing tree able to hold up anything. In the mine José had that mustard seed of faith, eventually that was all that the 33 miners had, and it was that faith that kept them going.
But where does that faith come from? Romans 10:17 says “faith comes from hearing the message”. José probably knew the Bible reasonably well, had heard stories of God working in miraculous ways. I know when I’m in rubbish situations it is verses and experiences of God that I hold on to, even when I can’t see the way out at that time. The Binle is full of examples of people who lived by faith, and Hebrews 11 gives you a quick run down of a lot of them. By seeing these examples from the Bible, and hearing examples of José, it gives us the courage to respond in faith when we think we’re in trouble. Luke 1:37 says “nothing is impossible with God” it doesn’t say everything is easy, just that everything is possible. Faith is tested, but that builds perseverance but that’s another value…
Prayer: father God, thank you for the faith of those before us, who we can learn from. May we know that no situation is impossible with you, and that when we think it is, we can have the strength to turn to you. Amen
Challenge: is there something you are struggling with at the moment? Can you hand it over to God? Is there someone you know is struggling? Can you offer to pray with them, for them, or find an example of someone who has gone through a similar situation to give them faith and a glimmer of hope.