Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark. ~ George Iles
The images these past couple of days from Chile are remarkable. I watched live as a rescuer was lowered 23oo feet into the earth on Tuesday evening. When he stepped out of the capsule into the dark cavern that had become home to 33 miners it was a tremenous sight. The words expressed by George Iles really sum up what was happening in that moment. Hope really is faith holding out a hand in the darkness.
One by one we watched hope birthed from the earth is the past two days. The most powerful image for me was that of 63-year-old Mario Gomez who emerged from the capsule and fell to his knees in prayer. I was moved to tears as I watched. I noted that the Name ‘Jesus’ was on his sleeve as it was on the sleeve of each miner as they emerged from their two month entombment. Gomez had become somewhat of a spiritual leader while underground. I listened intently as his partner of over 30 years Lilainett Ramirez told reporters that the faith he displayed below ground was not something that she had seen in him in their 30 plus years together. “When I was ask him to say our prayers, he would answer , I pray in my own way,” she told the CNN reporter. This faith was a new expression from Mario who had always professed belief but was never quick to express or articulate that faith. One of the more touching parts of his story was the fact that this couple had never had a church wedding and Mario was now anxious to make that a reality. His love letters from underground in the past 70 days have touched many people.
The very first of those letters was also a great message of hope and faith. It was read aloud on TV, having been retrieved from the drill bit that had broken through to the men after they had been underground and unheard of for 17 days. In the letter to Lila he wrote, “Even if we have to wait months to communicate … I want to tell everyone that I’m good and we’ll surely come out OK… patience and faith. God is great and the help of my God is going to make it possible to leave this mine alive.” These are powerful words that have come from a deep place in the earth and a ddep place in Mario’s soul. Mario was holding onto hope. Hope is what sustained him and the 32 others and he was determined to share that hope with his fellow prisioners in that hole. The hope that he held was a faith that was reaching to him in his darkness. The promise of John 8:12 was a real promise of hope for him. He knew that “whoever follows (the Lord) will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” His faith reached out to him in through the darkness to give him hope. When he ascended from the darkness of that earthen pit to the lights of the world which were cast upon him, Mario assumed a posture that should be instructive to us all; he knelt and he prayed. We are told he gave thanks to God and to the Virgin Mary for seeing hope now materialized into new life for him.
What can we take from this? Perhaps this is a good time for us to ask ourselves about the dark pits that we find ourselves in from time to time. For some that may be depression, for others it may be a loss of a marriage. Yet others are suffering job losses, the death of a close friend or worse a relative. Some of us are feeling judged and some of us are harbouring resentment and withholding forgiveness. Some of us are in need of being forgiven. Only you can determine what dark pit you find yourself in. Whatever it may be, the hope and faith expressed by 33 miners who were trapped for 70 days should be a reminder to all of us that we should not give up hope no matter how dark things may seem. Faith is holding out a hand in the dark – are we prepared to reach out and take that hand? It is a loving and a redeeming hand. It is a hand that will lead us toward the light that we so desperately long for. Also, are we prepared to hold out a hand to another who is living through his/her dark night of the soul. Perhaps we can make Mario’s words a prayer when we find ourselves in the darkness…. “God is great and the help of my God is going to make it possible to leave this [dark hole] alive.”
Praise God for the success of the mission at a place that has become known as “Camp Hope.” Let us take heart to set up our own hopeful camps of prayer in anticipation of being released from any darkness that we may know.