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“Our help is from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8)

On April 27, 1791 – Samuel Finley Breese Morse was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the eldest of three sons of clergyman, Dr. Jedediah Morse. The Morse boys were educated at a Christian boarding school and later at Yale College. As part of his studies at Yale, Samuel saw demonstrations of electricity, which had not yet been put to any useful purpose. His real interest was drawing, but his father believed that being an artist was not a suitable occupation for a gentleman. When his talent began to be recognized, the father finally agreed to send him to England to study art where he gained public acclaim. During his lifetime, Morse observed first-hand the problems that delays in communication could cause.  While on a ship traveling back to the United States from Europe in 1832, he conceived the idea of a single-circuit, electromagnetic telegraph. His ideas included the use of a code containing a series of dots and dashes representing letters of the alphabet, later known as Morse Code. In 1837, he applied for a patent for the telegraph. After many setbacks and disappointments, his projects eventually received funding. He demonstrated the telegraph for the first time on May 24, 1844 by transmitting a Bible verse, “What hath God wrought?” (Numbers 23:23), translated in modern versions as “See what God has done!”

On May 23rd, 1939, the submarine USS Squalus sank during a test dive off of the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 243 feet of water. A valve failure caused flooding of the torpedo room, both engine rooms, and the crew’s quarters – drowning 26 men. Quick action by the remaining 33 crewmen prevented the other compartments from filling.  It had only been a decade earlier when sailors in a similar situation tapped on the hull of their vessel a Morse Code message to their would-be rescuers asking, “Is there any hope?” They eventually died from a depleted supply of oxygen.  This time, for the USS Squalus – there was hope, in what became the greatest submarine rescue in U.S. history.  Navy and Coast Guard vessels rushed to the scene and picked up some of the Morse code messages hammered on the side of the Squalus. They knew 33 men were alive in the forward compartments. Having prepared for such an occasion, a rescue ship arrived carrying and attaching a never-before-tried device to the hatch enabling the remaining sailors to be rescued after a 39-hour ordeal.  The invention of Morse Code nearly a century before and the transmission of SOS alerts became an internationally-recognized distress signal. In popular usage, SOS became associated with such phrases as “Save our Ship” and “Save our Souls“.

Hope for rescue is a reality for all of us at one time of other. Indeed, it’s a customary life reaction when we are in distress. Stories of hope and searching for help from God affirm our faith. In the Old Testament, we read about a widow whose husband, a man who respected the Lord, had died and left her in debt. If her debt was not paid, the creditor would come back and take her two sons as slaves. In her distress, she looked to God for help by turning to His servant Elisha. When Elisha asked her what she had in her house, she said that she only had a little olive oil. He told her to ask her neighbors for as many empty jars as she could gather, and then to go to her home and close the door.  He further instructed her that she and her sons should fill each of the jars with oil, setting each one aside. When there were no more jars remaining, the oil stopped flowing. “When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, ‘Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over’” (2 Kings 4:1-7). This needy widow had hope that God could do something about her situation. And He did!

Four years before his death, Samuel Morse wrote: “The nearer I approach to the end of my pilgrimage, the clearer is the evidence of the divine origin of the Bible, the grandeur and sublimity of God’s remedy for fallen man are more appreciated, and the future is illumined with hope and joy.” Unfortunately, hope is what people often seek when it appears no one else will answer their cause. Some people live their lives trapped in an hull of emptiness and despair, wondering if there is any hope for escape. It is when we fully turn over our lives to God and trust that our help will come through Him alone that we will rejoice in the blessings that follow. We will then say to all who will listen – “See what God has done.”

REFLECTION: How can we become more reliant for God’s help in our daily walk rather than turning to Him as a last resort?  Are there ways that we can affirm the words of the Apostle Paul to others as He speaks of God’s Son – “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls” (Hebrews 6:19).


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