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Christ saves lives from deepest pit

When news reports announced the bodies of the last four missing coal miners had been found, the total number who perished in the recent mine explosion in West Virginia rose to 29.

This state experienced a similar tragedy in 2006 when an explosion at the Sago Mine killed 12 men. Only one miner, Randal McCloy, survived being trapped underground for 40 hours. Doctors described his survival as a miracle.

In both of these tragic situations, rescuers worked around the clock to save as many lives as possible. As long as there was any possibility of survival, everyone – especially the miners’ families – clung to hope. Sadly, these two coal mining disasters turned out deadly; unlike the summer of 2002 when nine miners were rescued following a Pennsylvania coal mine accident.

In the Pennsylvania accident, miners were trapped 240 feet below the surface of the earth for over three days. Rescuers never gave up on drilling because they never gave up hope, despite no signs of life. All nine survived and lived to tell about their ordeal, remarkably without serious injuries. As each man was brought up, the crowds on the scene clapped and cheered.

More is learned about mine safety from each of these disasters and laws are changed, but there’s also a lot each of us can learn about what matters most in life. News reports told how the Pennsylvania miners thought they were going to die.

One of the men had a pen, and on torn pieces of cardboard, each man wrote a message to his family letting them know how much he loved them. Never miss an opportunity to tell those closest to you how much they mean to you. The miners recalled encouraging one another when someone became downcast while huddling together for warmth in the flooded shaft. Bearing one another’s burdens and sharing words of encouragement are scriptural principles that we should practice every day. If we could only see them, through eyes of faith and compassion, there are people all around us trapped in their sins. Many of them live in the depths of despair. Jesus can bring them out of darkness into His marvelous light.

The writer of Psalms said he waited patiently for the Lord who heard his cry. Then he goes on to say, “He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock” (40:1-2).

Corrie Ten Boon, a Holocaust survivor, once remarked, “There is no pit too deep that He is not deeper still.” No matter who you are or what you’ve done, the Lord has provided a way of escape from temptation and sin through His sacrificial death.

In His great love for us, He willingly took our place so we could be saved. Jesus tells us of cheering in heaven when he said, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

As long as there is life, there is hope. Christians should urgently “rescue the perishing” by telling those trapped in sin the life-saving message of the Gospel. As the hymn writer put it, “Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.”