Mae Sai, Thailand. Who had ever heard of it and, even less, a cave there? But 12 boys, ages 11-16, a soccer team and their coach, were trapped in that cave. The world watched, hoped and many prayed for the safety of that team and the daring divers who risked their lives to save them.
If you pay attention, you may notice a telling illustration of how God cares about people. Almost as commentary in the background, it was clearly there.
Suddenly, among the billions of people in the world, 13 people mattered more than anything. We rejoiced when two UK divers found them. We ached for the boys’ parents. We grieved when one Thai diver passed out and died, trying to secure additional air tanks along the route for the rescue divers. Emotional chills surprised us as we saw the ambulance caring the last boy to the hospital as waiting crowds cheered. Compassion welled in us when a parent extended gracious words to the coach who led the boys into that cave, urging him not to blame himself; and we felt the power and hope of forgiveness.
Like thumbing through a family album, the Thai cave rescue showed us snapshots of God. A well-known Scripture passage – John 3:16 – paints the picture so well: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son . . . .” One person said, “This mission was successful because we had the power. The power of love. Everybody sent it to the 13” (Reuters, 7/10/18, 10:31 CDT). That’s so like God, loving the world.
The world is the focus of God’s love. In this case, every boy, the coach, every diver, every parent, every person mattered to God. The international team of 90 divers, who carried out the dangerous mission, revealed the world’s focal point. Politics didn’t matter. Cultures and languages didn’t divide people. 13 people needed to be rescued. It’s so like God, who loved and loves people.
God loved so much he gave. The daring cave divers, walking, swimming, climbing – like climbing Mount Everest, one writer explained – squeezing through underwater passages too narrow for scuba gear, diving in muddy, unknown waters, with one diver giving the ultimate sacrifice, to save 13 people. It’s so like God, sending Jesus, God’s one, and only Son, on a daring rescue mission to save us.
Sometimes in ordinary ways, sometimes in extraordinary ways, we can see what God is like. As the world focused on 13 people in a cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand, we could see how God is focused on the world. Did it happen just to show us what God is like? No. Could we see something more than the obvious? I believe so.