Trapped in the coal-dark underground of a Chilean mine, Ariel Tacona Yanez made a decision that will live beyond the rest of his life.
Along with 32 fellow miners, he was cut off from the watching world for 17 days until a probe penetrated their dungeon and the world heard the news that the miners were alive. During that time of isolation and uncertainty, the 29-year-old father of two thought about his wife and their soon-to-be born baby girl. They had agreed on a name, Carolina, for their daughter.
But there in the depths of the earth, separated from everything and everyone he loved, he thought of a better name. When he finally could communicate to his rescuers above ground, he sent a message for his wife. “Our baby is to be called Esperanza,” he told her. The lyrical word is Spanish for hope.
Finally, this week, we were riveted to see all 33 men lifted slowly from the depths. Amid news of Mideast bombings and soldiers’ deaths, with uncertainty about the economy and weariness amid a barrage of pre-election political spats, we were witness to pure joy.
The rescuers embraced and sang and proudly waved the Chilean flag as they waited for each miner to be lifted from the depths. More than one of the rescued thanked God for his escape. Mario Gomez, the ninth man to emerge, knelt in prayer on the safe ground above the mine, his gratitude broadcast live via satellite TV.
“Faith has moved mountains,” said Chile’s president, Sebastian Pinera.
This week preachers everywhere will liken the rescue to the gift God offers everyone seeking release from darkness and anxiety. Like Lazarus emerging from his grave, we are resurrected to new life when we accept the escape that only Christ offers.
Alan Ahlgrim, minister with Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Niwot, Colorado, e-mailed church members a passage he said has “gripped” him:
“I cry out to God Most High, . . .
He will send help from heaven to rescue me” (Psalm 57:2, 3, New Living Translation).
We can join Alan with thanks to the Rescuer who waits to raise up all of us. He can tunnel through any mountain of shame or grief or fear to reach us. And when we once again rise to firm ground, we kneel to thank God for what he gives best, “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).