“God himself could not sink this ship,” replied a deck hand as Sylvia Caldwell marveled at the majesty of the great Titanic and wondered aloud if it really was unsinkable as advertised.
Talk about famous last words!
It was on this day 104 years ago, April 15, 1912, that the “Unsinkable Ship” sank in the icy waters of the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg late on the 14th. 1517 people died in that disaster.
Caldwell, a second class passenger, on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, was one of only 705 people to survive. There are many interesting stories of heroism and unselfish sacrifice of those who lost their lives while trying to save others.
One of the survivors, Ernst Ulrik Persson, by his own account, was pulled into one of the lifeboats by Lady Jacob Astor, the wife of millionaire developer John Jacob Astor — the richest passenger on the ship who did not survive.
Several lessons come to mind in reflecting on this historic tragedy.
(1) When disaster strikes, everyone is in the same boat. Rich and poor. Young and old. Male and female. First class. Second class. And deck hands. Problems, pain and suffering is no respector of persons. Death eventually comes to all. The ancient Preacher of Ecclesiastes observed it was so. That was true on that fateful night 104 years ago. It is still true today.
(2) Values are quickly altered in dire circumstances. What was once important is inconsequential. And what once seemed insignificant takes on greater worth. The story is told of a wealthy lady who was in her state room when she heard the orders to abandon ship. There was no time to pack possessions. On her dressing table she saw her jewelry box and a bowl or oranges. She quickly decided that the jewels were “worthless” in this situation, but that the fruit might nourish her on the open sea. Even more valuable is the soul–of greater worth than all the world’s riches. (Matt 16:26)
(3) The Titanic reminds us how quickly life can change. One moment we’re enjoying pleasure. The next our life hangs in the balance. Our peaceful lives are disturbed by events out of our control. Survivor Eva Hart remembers the night,”I saw all the horror of its sinking, and I heard, even more dreadful, the cries of drowning people.” Truly, James was right, our lives are but “a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:13).
(4) Man’s boasting is vain. Columnist Cal Thomas wrote, “The Titanic was a monument to the glory and presumed omnipotence of human ingenuity, which was also destroyed.” Indeed, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18). The ship once thought virtually unsinkable, sank!
Yet, I remember one boat in history that really was unsinkable. It was the boat on which the apostles were sailing when a ferocious storm arose on the Sea of Galilee. The winds were fierce. The waves were coming into their little craft. They felt like they were going to die. But, Jesus was on that boat. Asleep. But when he was awakened by the frightened fisherman, he calmly stilled the storm with His words, “Peace, be still.” (Mark 4:35-41)
What storm are you facing? What wind of adversity is blowing? What challenge that looms large like a 100′ iceberg threatens your safety? Jesus can safely navigate your frail vessel across the tempestuous sea of life.
The ships of men can sink. And they will sink. But the one unsinkable ship is the one on which Jesus Christ is the Pilot. Come aboard. Your destination is guaranteed.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman