FALSE HOPES AND TRAGIC ENDINGS

Apr
2018
14

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“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.” (Psalm 46:1-2)

April 14 was a tragic day in history.  Five days after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox in 1865 – the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, was shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. Many years later, Ward Hill Lamon—Lincoln’s former law partner, friend and sometimes bodyguard—related a story about the President’s premonition of his own death. According to the tale, just a few days before his assassination Lincoln shared a current dream. In it, he walked into the East Room of the White House to find a covered corpse guarded by soldiers and surrounded by a crowd of mourners. When Lincoln asked one of the soldiers who had died, the soldier replied, “The president. He was killed by an assassin.” Lincoln told Lamon that the dream had “strangely annoyed” him. However, on the afternoon before his death – he accompanied his wife Mary on her daily carriage ride.  It was a pleasant spring day and the Lincolns discussed their plans for life after his presidency. He was said to have been quite blissful on this final day of his life. Following the shooting, the President would live throughout the night but die at 7:22 am on April 15, 1865.

Forty-seven years later in 1912 just before midnight in the North Atlantic on April 14, the RMS Titanic failed to divert its course from an iceberg, ruptured its hull, and began to sink. One of the largest and most luxurious ocean liners ever built, the Titanic was considered unsinkable. On its maiden voyage, the ship carried some 2,200 passengers and crew. Because of a shortage of lifeboats and the lack of satisfactory emergency procedures, more than 1,500 people went down in the ship or froze to death in the icy North Atlantic waters. A number of notable American and British citizens died in the tragedy, including the ship’s architect and captain.  Some survivors later reported that the ship’s string ensemble played the hymn “Nearer My God to Thee” as the vessel sank. At 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912 – she slipped beneath the waters of ocean, leaving only 710 survivors. The wreckage itself was never discovered until 1985, and her memory was kept alive by numerous works of popular culture.

These two events give credence to the statement that we should live and have our best possible today. Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). The song “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” tells only part of the story. While full of hope about the future, it might be more realistically titled, “A Lot of Livin’ to Do . . . Maybe!” These days, we often act as if we are going to live forever but, on the other hand, we expect to be protected from everything. A good example is the offer of travel insurance. Normally included is coverage for trip cancellation and interruption, baggage loss or damage, medical expenses, emergency evacuation, as well as accidental death and dismemberment. Some plans protect travelers from their driveway to their destination and then back home, including exposure to terrorist activities. One wonders if Titanic survivor Eva Hart’s parents would have made such an insurance purchase, had it been available in 1912. Hart once stated: “My mother had a premonition from the very word ‘GO.’ She knew there was something to be afraid of and the only thing that she felt strongly about was that to say a ship was unsinkable was flying in the face of God. Those were her words.”

For the Christian – the only insurance policy we have as we journey through life is the ‘assurance’ that our forever has been signed with the blood of Jesus. This is the wonderful gift of Easter. Lincoln seemed to agree when he said: “Surely God would not have created such a being as man, with an ability to grasp the infinite, to exist only for a day! No, no. Man was made for immortality.” Whatever you are facing this day, my friend, you can be certain that if you look toward the heavens . . . “You will be rewarded for this; your hope will not be disappointed. My child, listen and be wise: Keep your heart on the right course” (Proverbs 23:18-19). For if our hope is based only on holding tight to the things of this earth, then we will never know the things of God . . . and that would indeed be quite a tragic ending.

REFLECTION: When you think of hope for your future, what considerations to you have? How can you help yourself and others free themselves about obsessing over earthly matters?

A NEW LOOKUP  DEVOTION IS UPLOADED EACH WEEK. THE NEXT WEEKLY POSTING WILL BE ON SAT. APRIL 21, 2018.  COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.

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