For the last 69 days, some of my heart has been in Chile. From the first day that I heard about the 33 miners caught in a landslide until last night when the last of the miners was brought to the surface, my thoughts and prayers were with them and their families. This incident touched me deeply because in a small way, I have experienced what the families of those miners went through and I seemed to re-live all the emotions, the questions, the aching, and the trauma all over again as I thought of what they were experiencing.
In 1999, our family was in a car accident. As I was being extracted from the car, I heard a doctor tell the paramedics that two of my four children had no vital signs (signs of life). At that moment, my children were lost to me, much like those miners were when they were trapped underground for the first 17 days until the probes underground made contact. To have a loved one lost to you in one split second is a shock that cannot be described. It is a numbing pain that cannot be relieved. At a time like that, there is no comfort.
We were taken to a small hospital from the scene of the accident and the emergency room there was having a hard time dealing with my two unresponsive children. It was then that they informed my husband that they were going to give up trying to save them. It's at times like this that I am so thankful that I am married to a strong, spiritual man. He stood up and informed them that he was doing his part (praying and believing), so they needed to get back into the emergency room and do theirs. He even quoted them a scripture verse just to back up his request. So they slapped the kids on life support and shipped them to the nearest trauma center one hour away.
When we arrived at the trauma center, we were taken into a secluded area of the emergency room waiting area and told that our children were still alive, not breathing on their own, but alive. At that moment, I felt that my kids had been restored to me. I immediately fell on the floor thanking and praising God and making a general scene, but I didn't care. All the emotion that had been building in my heart as we drove the one hour to the trauma unit just came flooding out of me. That hour was the longest of my life. For one hour we sat in relative silence as we wondered how many were still alive, which ones were still alive, was the oldest daughter who was also injured paralyzed, were there other life altering injuries, would we have to say goodbye, would we even get to say goodbye?
Upon learning that for now they were all alive, we were escorted to ICU. I walked right past their beds because their faces were so swollen and distorted that I didn't recognize them. They were both in drug induced comas. When they did awake within the next two weeks, neither one of them had the slightest idea who I was. I was just some woman that sat by their beds, prayed with them, and met their every need. The nurses prepared me to expect that they would never be the same people I had once known because that is a common occurrence with brain injuries. Once again, they were lost to me. My heart ached and rejoiced at the same time. In prayer I told the Lord that it felt as if my children had died even though I could clearly see that they were still breathing. That night my Bible fell open to Jeremiah and my eyes came to rest on Jeremiah 31:15
"Thus the Lord saith, a voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not."
In that moment, I was flooded with the knowledge that the Lord had heard my prayer and that He understood. It's comforting when you realize that God is right in the middle of your situation.
And God understood as well when the families of those 33 miners camped on top of the very earth that held their loved ones captive. It was as physically close as they could get to them. They knew their loved ones were alive, but they were still lost to them. I'm sure too that at some point some of the questions that went through my mind in that hour long ride probably visited them in it's tormenting fashion as well. My heart ached for them.
My children were eventually returned to me. The greatest words I have ever heard in my entire life were heard the day that each of them, when asked by a therapist who I was, looked at me and said with a smile, "Mamma". I didn't have to wait 69 days to finally be reunited with my children, but even for me, the several weeks I did wait seemed an eternity. So as I watched those miners embracing their loved ones as they stepped from that rescue capsule, the poignancy of that moment brought tears to my eyes. Memories flooded my mind. Gratitude flooded my heart. And hope for the future and all that it will hold for us to face sprang up as I remembered the faithfulness and the closeness that God promises in times of dire need.
Scripture tells us that we are to "comfort each other with the comfort that we have been comforted with". Some times, we wonder why we go through the trial and hurts that we do. Sometimes we find out why, but more often there is no obvious or immediate explanation. But when facing trials, we have a choice. To face them or to face God. If we choose to face God, looking to Him alone, He meets us with divine comfort, extraordinary strength, and peace that passes all understanding. When we are through the trial, we then have something to offer to those who are going through trials themselves. So if we allow God to be God in our trials He will arm us to deal them and equip us to be a blessing in the future. When we identify with each other's trials we are more effective in our prayer and practical help.
He is the fourth man in the fire. He was the 34th man in that mine. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.