Like thousands of others, I’ve been captivated by the story of the trapped Chilean miners. Likewise, my heart rejoiced when the drill reached its destination, the rescue capsule was lowered, and individuals began emerging from their weeks of seclusion. The story is one that grips our souls because we imagine what it would be like to be in a similar situation and we, at least in part, recognize the sheer struggle for survival that these men faced. When we take into account all the things that had to happen “just so” in order for all these men to safely emerge, it is easy to think of their return to safety as nothing short of a miracle.
However, this story captures our hearts for another reason as well. Just like we can all imagine what it’s must be like to be stuck in a mine for 69 days. It resonates with our souls because we all know what it’s like to be trapped. Maybe we’ve never been stuck underneath the Earth’s surface, but all of us know what it is like to be entangled in sin. All of us know what it’s like to be caught in a chasm of shame, fear and regret.
Because this condition is common to humanity, it’s worthwhile to glean what we can from this more tangible representation of it. Here are four parallels I noted:
1) The Destitution of Disparity – For the trapped miners, it wasn’t their location in and of itself that caused the problem, but the disparity between where they were and where they were supposed to be. In other words, it was the distance that had to be traversed in order to get to them that proved challenging. In the same way, as Christians, we must recognize the destitution of our situation prior to being rescued by God. This can be difficult because we don’t as readily wear the dirt and the dust of being trapped in a mine, but these imprints are on our lives nonetheless. And when we compare where we are to where God’s holiness demands, it is easy to see that just like the miners, the distance is deep and rescue almost unfathomable.
2) The Inadequacies of our Independence – Another interesting thing about the Chilean miners was that they couldn’t figure out a way to get out of their trap by themselves. Probably most of these men had been working underground for a majority of their lives and yet despite their familiarity with the situation, they didn’t possess the equipment, the capabilities, or the means to stage their own rescue attempt. As Christians, it’s important to recognize this too. Too often, I think too highly of all that I’m doing for Christ, forgetting that no good work was good enough to save me. I can’t do it on my own and in and of myself, it is not enough. Just like the miners, I need Someone to rescue me.
3) The Importance of Community – Not only did the miners need someone outside of themselves to save them, but they needed each other to make it through the time until that rescue was complete. An early article that I read about the conditions inside the mine indicated that various individuals had been given jobs as they waited. One person was the cameraman. Others were provided with instruction on how to detect any psychological issues that experts were afraid could emerge. The work that these individuals did was not only good for their fellow captives, but it was good for them. They couldn’t help with the actual rescue attempt, but in doing what they could to maintain the well-being of others, they could participate in it.
In the same way, for Christians, we must recognize that we need to lean on each other as we await our eventual extraction. We have each been given jobs and we must do them, not only for the benefit of our fellow sojourners, but because it is a privilege for us to be involved in the work God is doing. Just like the miners, we aren’t the means by which rescue will occur, but we should work to participate in the process, and allow God to use our gifts.
4) The Appreciation of Reunion – Perhaps no moment was sweeter than when the first miner safely emerged and was reunited with his family. The bliss over the reunion was at least partly caused by the fact that when the miner was trapped, he must have realized that this was not the way things were supposed to be. In the same way, when we get to Heaven we will realize the vast differences between life on Earth and life in our Eternal Home. We’ll rejoice because we are now finally experiencing what we are created for. And just like the anticipation of reunion helped fuel the hope and the actions of the trapped miners, so should our anticipation of Heaven do the same.
The rescue of the miners was no easy feat. And yet, through the grace of God, it looks like it will be accomplished. However, His grace has already provided a greater rescue. May we not only appreciate this as the gift that it is, but may we act in accordance with our restored life each and every day.