Recently, an estimated one billion people around the world looked on via television as 33 Chilean miners were rescued from the collapsed mine that had held them for 69 days, over 2,000 feet below the earth’s surface. The effort was painstakingly planned and perfectly executed.
For me, it was almost impossible not to get choked up each time a miner emerged to greet his family and friends that had been camping out, praying, and waiting for their eventual deliverance. People across the globe were deeply touched by the emotion of this joyful reunion.
In some ways, these scenes offered a very small glimpse of the incredible hope of Christ-followers. Our heavenly reunion and reward will eclipse these scenes from the San Jose copper mine in Chile. Yet, it is good to let this illustration warm our hearts with the reality of eternity as we look for our eventual deliverance and reward.
The Power of Hope
An online article by Reuters News reported on Jose Henriquez, “the group’s prayer leader who asked for 33 Bibles to be sent down while they awaited rescue.” Many of these miners looked to the Scriptures for encouragement, strength, and hope.
Henriquez was the first to go back to the mine in preparation for a spiritual service held by the miners and their families after their rescue. He said he wanted to get to know the area near the mine known as “Camp Hope,” where family members gathered to pray and await news about their husbands, sons, and fathers.
Titus 2:13 says that, like those trapped miners, we are “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.“ The “Camp Hope” of heaven is filled with a “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) and is where our Savior ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).
The Anticipation of Deliverance
Throughout the difficult and dark days in the mine, these men had to embrace the possibility of their rescue. For the first 17 harrowing days they had no contact with rescuers. When communication came, anticipation exploded. Deliverance, while not guaranteed, eventually arrived after many long days of waiting.
Romans 8:22-25 tells us that “the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs” and that as believers we “groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope” and we “eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” We wait for a guaranteed deliverance. The Bible tells us that the “Holy Spirit of promise” is “the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13 & 14).
The Joy of Reunion
The images above the San Jose mine depicted indescribable joy as the trapped miners were reunited with family and friends. Second Corinthians 5:8 tells us that “while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord” and that our hope is to be “absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” Of course, our heavenly destination also promises an unimaginable reunion with all the saints of all the ages in the glory of Jesus’ presence. In that day we will “know just as we are known” (1 Corinthians 13:12), experiencing perfect fellowship as we “enter into the joy of our Lord” (Matthew 25:23).
The Reward of Prayer
The Reuters news story noted that the rescue ended what many felt was a spiritual mission. The reporter noted, “Many of the relatives are deeply religious and some prayed almost around the clock.” The biblical descriptions of heaven make reference to the value of the prayers of the saints here on earth (Revelation 5:8, 8:3 & 4). We know that heaven will reveal all the rewards of prayer as we see the real storyline behind the journey of our lives.
The Recognition of Service
Luis Urzua was the final miner to emerge. As the shift commander at the time of the disaster, he exercised great leadership and wisdom in helping his men stay calm and in control throughout the ordeal. It was his desire to stay in the mine until all the others were rescued. After their deliverance, the other miners told many stories about Urzua’s bravery and service. He was rewarded with great appreciation and honor.
First Corinthians 4:5 reminds us that when the Lord comes, He will reveal the things that we did not know about on earth and “each one’s praise will come from God.” Paul spoke of “the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give to…all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
The Unity of Celebration
One of the most evocative scenes from this incredible rescue operation was that moment when the miners stood arm and arm with their rescuers, the media, and the President and First Lady of Chile, singing the Chilean national anthem. Smiles, hugs, and tears marked this culminating moment. Everyone stood and sang on the equal ground of the soil of safety and realized hope.
Revelation 5:11-13 tells us that someday we will join “the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders.” The number of them will be “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” All will be saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” We will continue to sing our anthem of praise: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” On the common ground of heaven’s glory we will celebrate the finished work of the cross in perfect union with the Lord Jesus.
Truly, our existence in the “mine” of this fallen world can be difficult and feel hopeless at times. Yet, our hope is sure. Our deliverance is certain. Our joyful reunion will come. Our prayers are being answered. Our humble and faithful service will be rewarded. Our voices will be forever united in praise of the Lamb who has redeemed us and will deliver us – all for His glory.
Copyright © 2010 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.