On Dec. 17, 1927, the submarine S4 was getting ready to surface just off the coast of New England. Unbeknownst to them, they were only a few feet in front of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Paulding. A collision occurred, and within moments the S4 sank to the harbor floor. Rushing water and chlorine gas soon killed most of the 40-man crew. But six men in the torpedo room were sealed off by watertight doors. For the time being, they were safe.
The U.S. Coast Guard immediately sent out signals for rescue. The rescue team arrived, and they descended to the ship. A crude listening device was attached to the hull; they immediately heard tapping in Morse code, which read: Is there yet any hope?
Those words sound an alarm for the entire church today. The world is asking is there yet any hope for me? The resounding message from the church must be yes; there is hope through a relationship with Jesus Christ!
The rescue divers responded, “There is hope. Everything possible is being done.” We can look around our society and see the hurting, the neglected and those who are trapped by the bondages of sin and addiction. Can we say that everything possible is being done? Is the church focused on the mission to rescue the perishing? Are we offering hope to the hopeless? A wise individual once said: “There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.”
I read recently about the fate of a little town in Flagstaff, Maine. The town was to be flooded, as part of a large lake for which a dam was being built. In the months before it was to be flooded, all improvements and repairs in the whole town were stopped. What was the use of painting a house if it was to be covered with water in six months? Why repair anything when the whole village was to be wiped out? Week by week, the whole town became more and more unkempt, more broken down, more despairing.
How many lives have become like this little town? Many in our society have given up hope. Their lives are broken down. They have given in to despair. But the church has been called to be a beacon of hope in the darkness. The residents of that little town in Maine had lost any faith in the future. Where there is no faith in the future there is no power in the present. We remember the words of the Psalmist: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” (Ps 46:10 KJV)
Time is of the essence. We must rescue the perishing while we have opportunity. The church must be a place of help, hope and healing for our community. The Apostle Paul encourages us in the book of Romans: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” (Rom 15:13 NIV).