I recently rewatched a show that I had caught the better half of with JJ in early December. It’s called The Rescue, and it’s a documentary based on the real-life mission in June of 2018 to save 12 Thai adolescents and their soccer coach after they became trapped in a cave that suddenly became inundated by rushing rain water.
Although the documentary is not a Christian film by any means and in fact talks about the Buddhist beliefs held in that region of the world, I have no doubt that God’s hand was upon this harrowing mission. Everything about this rescue was hazardous, and one volunteer died as a result of such dangers. Nonetheless, against all odds, no other lives were lost. The Thai soccer team and their coach were saved and reunited with their loving families, and it’s evident that God brought about such success.
This film is touching for so many reasons. I was amazed by the resiliency of the soccer team, moved by the selflessness of the individuals that sought to rescue them, and remained in suspense as the documentary shared about each detail that made this rescue mission so hazardous and quite nearly impossible. What touched me the most, however, was hearing the back stories of the group of men that eventually found and retrieved the teenagers and their coach from the cavern.
These individuals were not part of the Thai Navy SEALs or the U.S. Air Force Special Tactics that also formed a huge part of this rescue mission. Rather, they were a humble group of men that merely practiced cave diving as a weekend hobby. They had no special training per se, but their love of the sport and the hours they spent practicing it was what made them equipped for this task like none other, and it was fascinating to hear how their childhoods played a part in bringing them to that moment in time, where they would be the exact individuals needed for this mission. The ones in a million.
Most of them shared about how introverted and socially awkward they were as children and how they were always chosen last for team sports. But their lack of athletic ability caused them to find a unique sport that they could excel in as adults, and their distinct personalities caused them to enjoy such a hobby that left them largely alone in their own thoughts as they drifted in the darkness of each cave with a partner, immersed in the depths as they explored each crevice.
Little did they know that such a hobby was preparing them for something far beyond their wildest imaginations. Everything about their lives was leading up to this moment. They would play a vital role in what would become one of the most astounding rescue missions of modern day.
I can’t help but feel choked up when I think of this small group of men and their stories. None of them talk about faith or God in the documentary, but I can’t help but see how God prepared these men for this task nonetheless. After all, He is able to use anyone for His purposes. He used the very things that brought these men insecurity in the past to eventually lead them to the unlikely event that would bring them such great honor.
At the end of the film, the Thai officials, the boys they saved, and the Queen of England herself honored these men and gave them awards, and this group of men will continue to be honored for their sacrifice, courage, and the skill they showed in saving the soccer team in June of 2018. The documentary is a lovely tribute to the countless volunteers who gave their all, but it is an even greater tribute to this elite group of cave divers who chose to be a part of this incredible rescue mission.
The pasts of this small group of men were not in vain. Their introverted personalities were not a mistake. The very things that made them insecure growing up were the very things God would use to equip them to save lives. God called them into the depths of the caves, and then He called them out. And in those fateful days of June, He would call them out into honor, prestige, and fame. He is a God who redeems. He is a God who can use anything and everything that makes us who we are. Our own insecurities, weaknesses, and hardships can become the very things He uses to bring about something magnificent and extraordinary at some future point in our lives—things we cannot even fathom as of now. He can call us out of the depths and mark our lives with honor as we seek to bring glory to His name.
Nonetheless, we must open our hands to God and trust Him if we are to see any of it. We must follow Him out of the depths when He calls. We must have faith that, if we put our stories in His hands, He can make something out of our broken pieces, and it will be beautiful, and it will be good. So, let’s trust Him to call us out of the depths whenever we find ourselves in them, and let’s remain confident that He is with us in any dark caverns in which we find ourselves today. He will not abandon us. He will rescue us. And He will bring about a better story. One rich with redemption that is glorious and magnificent and ultimately results in His praise.
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.”Psalm 71:20