The world watched with anticipation last week as 12 Thai soccer players and their coach were heroically rescued from the cave which held them captive almost two weeks. The entire story is nothing short of miraculous as the valiant rescuers raced against time to bring each boy and their coach out of the cave and into safety.
I couldn’t quit thinking about what it must have been like for the team to be trapped 9 days in darkness as they waited and hoped for help to arrive.
At the time of this writing, we don’t have all the information about those dark days, but we do know they survived by drinking water dripping along the walls of the cave and eating birthday snacks which they had just purchased for one of their teammates. The coach, a former Buddhist monk, led them in mediation which helped to keep them calm.
I started thinking, how would I handle days of complete darkness, not knowing if you would be rescued? How would I keep hope alive?
We all go through dark days in our lives, whether it is a grim cancer diagnosis or a discouraging job situation or a difficult marriage. Hope may be impossible to see, but that’s the nature of hope. The apostle Paul wrote to the Roman believers, “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Although we may not be able to see the outcome, we can trust that God sees our situation. Paul wrote these words of encouragement, “ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” By the power of His Spirit, we can begin to experience abundant hope in the midst of the dark cave, along with joy and peace.
When you find yourself in a dark place, here are three practical principles to help you gain hope:
Stay Calm – The soccer team may have sought peace through meditation, but we can find it through prayer. Prayer is a calming factor because we are bringing our cares to our loving Father and seeking His help, comfort and guidance. Paul wrote, “Let the peace of Christ rule (referee) your heart.”
Consider What You Do Have – The Thai soccer team didn’t have a banquet of food, but they did have a birthday snacks. They had fresh water trickling down the walls of the cave. In a similar way, we must turn our focus on the provisions God has given us. Let’s take time each day to thank the Lord for His provisions and the helpful people He has placed in our lives.
Ask for Strength – The Bible reminds us that those who wait on the Lord gain new strength. Paul also wrote, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Let us not think that we fight our battles alone. Ask the Lord to give you the strength you need to make it through the night. He gives strength to the weary.
We may not be able to see hope in the midst of our darkness, but we know that God sees our situation no matter how dark the night. Let us say with the psalmist David:
Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him,
for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-7