Thirty-three trapped miners in Chile equaled the all-time entrapment record today of twenty-five days, set in China last year. Amazingly, most all the workers in the gold and silver mine remain positive and upbeat. Some have even been able to send video greetings through three small drilled holes where life-sustaining food, water and medicine are dropped to keep the men alive.
Meanwhile, the rescue efforts continue by the state-owned mining company which began by boring a rescue hole Monday afternoon wide enough to pull the men up through 2,300 feet of earth. If successful, each man will eventually experience a half-hour long ride to the surface. The larger machine will slowly grind through a smaller hole forcing crushed rock to fall down into the mine shaft area near the trapped men. That means that the imprisoned workers will themselves have a huge part in their own rescue having to clear 3,000 to 4,000 tons of debris by working 24/7 shifts. Their own efforts may well determine whether the escape plan works and how long it lasts.
One miner, 30-year-old Osman Araya, spoke as he began to cry. "Tell my mother, I love you guys so much. I'll never leave you, I will fight to the end to be with you."
Few things in life are as frightening as the thought of being literally buried alive. And even with today’s technology, many that become trapped far under the earth’s surface find that terrifying spot to be their final earthly grave if they are not reached in time. Hopefully that will not be the case in Chile this time.
Once again the wisdom of Proverbs 27 rises to the surface. Verse one declares, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” It is likely that not one of the thirty-three trapped miners ever expected the collapse of the main shaft on August 5th. Most assumed they would be home after their respective shift, enjoying the comforts of normal life and joy of their families. But now, that is water under the bridge – or more like under the ground! They are in a literal life and death struggle. And it is now that one all-important and overriding concern that quickly rises to the surface - even if they never do. That is simply each man’s personal spiritual condition before God and whether or not they are trapped in sin along with being trapped in the mine.
It is reported that some of the men are believers in Christ. These have already been rescued, spiritually speaking, and are ready to face both life and death with the hope and confidence that only salvation in Christ can bring. Hopefully their faith is their primary life-line and source of encouragement. And hopefully, this dire situation is giving these the precious time, opportunity, and motivation to share their faith with those who are doubly trapped – in the earth, and even worse, in sin.
Christians should pray fervently for the physical rescue plans to succeed and for the safe return of the thirty-three ill-fated miners. But there should also be prayer that, when the men are brought up from the depths, many will hit the surface having been likewise pulled from the power and penalty of sin through the One who says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)
The trapped mine men in Chile have hope but a hope that still has a massive amount of work involved if they are to share in their own liberation. But those who would be freed through Christ need no such self-effort. They need only to believe and apply from the heart the words recorded in Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
When this is done, the truest sense of freedom is understood and becomes a glorious and permanent rescue and reality. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)