Like many people around the world, I have been following the story of the Thai soccer team and their coach, who were trapped in a flooded cave for more than two weeks. The rescue was very challenging, and it was by no means clear that the rescuers would succeed. Tragically, while participating in the rescue action, one former Thai Navy SEAL lost his life. The rescue efforts were truly heroic, and the marshaling of expertise and support from so many countries was remarkable.
In reading the latest news, however, I was struck by a headline on www.cnn.com: “Father of youngest Thai boy in cave rescue never lost hope.” That may be true, but what produced the miraculous ending was not hope, but faith.
It’s no surprise--and no coincidence--that this rescue took place on the heels of two Gospel readings about faith. In last Sunday’s reading, we heard how Jesus visited his hometown but was unable to perform any miracles because the people did not have faith (Mark 6:5-6). The Sunday before, we read about a woman whose faith alone allowed her to heal instantly from twelve years of suffering. In that case, Jesus did not even touch the woman; she merely reached out and touched his cloak and was healed. “My daughter, your faith has made you well,” said Jesus (Mark 5:25-34).
Considering the extreme conditions in the Thai cave, the rescue of the boys and their coach was nothing short of miraculous. During the ordeal, the youngest boy’s father kept faith. So, clearly, did the families of the other boys and the family of the coach. And likely hundreds of thousands--if not millions--of people around the globe also kept faith throughout the rescue actions. We’ll never know for sure, but perhaps it was this combined faith that produced the miracle. (Naturally, not all were praying to God or Jesus but to the Divine in their own tradition.)
Throughout our human existence, we are frequently confronted with heartbreak, loss, and disappointment. During these times, it can be extraordinarily difficult to maintain faith, especially when a situation seems hopeless. Through His words in the Gospel and through actions such as the Thai cave rescue, Jesus reminds us that if we have faith, miracles can happen.
In what area of life do you need to have more faith? How can our combined faith help all of humanity? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Postscript: In writing this post, I entirely overlooked the symbolism of the numbers: twelve boys...and one coach.
Katharine Spehar, 2017-2018.
Photo credit: www.pixabay.com