The cave rescue in Thailand this past week did things to me.
It’s been thirty-five years since I’ve been inside a cave. It’s called spelunking. ‘Not one of my favorite things to do, but something I’m happy to claim on my bucket list of things I have accomplished.
I remember the darkness and the quietness. The time we turned off all our lights and held our breath. No sound whatsoever. It’s not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic.
We walked through water and dusty parts of caves. We saw bats hanging in the tops of the caves. Sometimes we crawled; sometimes we had to lie flat on our stomachs and inch our way forward like a caterpillar. Sometimes we came out dry, and sometimes we came out with mud and water caked to our clothing and in our shoes.
I went spelunking so I could learn to be a “guide” for a school group that was scheduled to go later. The cave we visited was well-mapped and well-known by our guide.
Spelunking is one of those things that I can’t let myself think about while I’m doing it. I can’t let my mind go where I am, especially when I’m inching along, afraid to lift my head for fear of getting knocked out cold by the stone above me. I can’t allow myself to think about how far into the cave I am or how far under the ground I am. If I let myself think about it, I panic. So I don’t let myself go there.
With all the rest of the world, I watched, listened, and followed the progress of the twelve boys and their coach trapped in the cave in Thailand. Because of my limited experience in spelunking, I had a pigeon-hole idea of what it was like inside that cave. I could not, however, fathom being in total darkness and feeling so hungry. I can’t get close to feeling the worry of the families of those in the cave.
There was one thing I could do, however. I could pray. Thousands of miles away from where the drama was taking place, I could pray.
For families with children, this was a teaching opportunity. When we pray for those we don’t know, we are teaching compassion and care for others. When we can’t be in the middle of the fight or involved in the action, we can teach our children to pray. No matter one’s title or position, you can always pray. Even when we don’t know the outcome, it’s a wonderful opportunity to teach our children about faith and trust – and prayer. It’s an opportunity to help our children understand the importance of praying for others whom we have never met. It’s an opportunity to help our children watch as God moves and orchestrates, even if things don’t turn out the way we think they should.
Hourly updates, tweets, and interviews could be followed all day long, another reminder to pray. Some information given was inaccurate. People weighed in on what was “fair” and why this happened. It didn’t matter at that point. All the boys needed from God’s people were their prayers. As the scenario unfolded, there was a lot of drama.
And grief. Former Petty Officer 1st Class Saman Gunan died during an underwater swim in the cave. He had delivered oxygen tanks to the cave, then lost his life coming out because he didn’t have enough oxygen in his own tank. While the rest of the world rejoices at the “victory” of bringing all twelve boys and their coach out safely, there is a family who is grieving. For them, I pray.
When we don’t know the outcome, we still pray. Three days of rescues and everyone else is safe. What seemed impossible became possible through strategy, hard work, caution, perseverance, cooperation, and careful planning.
When it seems there is so little that we can do, we often forget the most important thing. We can pray. When we feel helpless, we can pray.
Prayer moves mountains and cancels storms. Prayer calms fear and gives wings to faith. Prayer changes people. Prayer changes circumstances. Prayer changes me.
Posted on the Thai Navy Facebook page are the words, “We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what.”
It was a science and it was a miracle!
Nearly 8750 miles from where I live, what I did made a difference. I’m sure it’s the same for you.
Now is the time to praise! It’s also the time to keep praying, because these boys have suffered from dehydration and hunger; they have the potential to develop other health issues as well.
And now? Now we should still pray.