The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“God won”

Aren’t we supposed to be unfazed by this sort of thing?

Aren’t we supposed to shrug it all off, attribute it to science and engineering and the sheer grit of the human psyche?  

Isn’t it supposed to have more to do with willpower than wonder? We live in a post-Christian world now, don’t we?  To paraphrase Tina Turner: what’s God got to do with it?


Well, it seems, everything.

We sit here in our living rooms and offices, sipping coffee and checking e-mails, and hour after hour, another one emerges, up a long dark hole, to a shaft of daylight, and there are cheers and tears — and then something more.  Something that moves even the most hardened heart.  The world is blinking back tears as we see it, again and again.  One man, breathing his first fresh air in months, falls to his knees and prays. Another makes the sign of the cross. And in the media-saturated aftermath, one of the miners is interviewed on camera, still wearing his dark glasses, still numbed by it all, and he puts it in terms we can all understand. It sounds so simple — to some, I’m sure, simplistic — but it all makes perfect sense.


“I’ve been near God, but I’ve also been near the devil,” he says through a translator. “God won.”

Yes.  That’s it.  End of discussion.  
For over two months, they lived in a tomb, among rocks and rosaries. They prayed in darkness, waiting for light they could only remember, fleetingly, from last summer.  And yet, they dared to believe.  They sent a flag to the pope, and letters to loved ones, and petitions, endless prayerful petitions, heavenward. People called it “Operation San Lorenzo,” for the patron saint of miners — a saint who knew something about buried treasure and prayer.   Thirty-three men persevered.  They struggled.  They hoped.    
And, in the end, God won. 
It’s just that simple.  And just that complicated.  

No one right now is in a position to argue. The evidence — on the ground and on their faces — speaks for itself.

Comments read comments(21)
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Austin Fleming

posted October 13, 2010 at 6:35 pm

I agree that it’s simple and it’s complicated – but I think it might be more complicated than simple.
As I join in the rejoicing, I can’t help but think that if the miners had perished we would not have said that God lost.
What, then, does it mean for us to say God won?
Perhaps winning and losing aren’t the appropriate categories or options (which is not to criticize the joy of the man rescued from the mine!).
I’m thinking out loud here and I’m thinking that the rescue scene and these questions might be helpful for this coming weekend’s homily on the persistence of prayer.

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Mike R

posted October 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm

“As I join in the rejoicing, I can’t help but think that if the miners had perished we would not have said that God lost.”
Just thought that needed echoing.

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posted October 13, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Let’s keep praying just a little longer, the LAST man, a volunteer rescue worker is still on his way up…

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posted October 14, 2010 at 12:40 am

I would say the idea that “God won” is more simplistic than simple. If God is really the omnipotent being we are told He is, why is it ever really a contest?
If these men survived primarily because of the strength of their faith, what does that say about the untold thousands of men who were entombed alive in mines in the 19th Century, a time when this country was demonstrably more observant in its Christian faith? Are the large numbers of miners who aren’t extracted in time damned because their faith or prayers wavered and they failed to “earn” their earthly salvation? Do we know of any instances where God rescued men from sealed caverns thousands of feet below WITHOUT the use of advanced technology which the Chileans of 2010 were lucky enough to have?
Do I think the possibility of divine intervention is precluded? No, and certainly this would have to seem a miracle to anyone who has lived through what those 33 men did, but it all seems a bit too convenient to use any happy outcome as ironclad evidence of God and then conveniently write him out of the equation when the outcomes are not happy…

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posted October 14, 2010 at 1:17 am

I agree with Kenneth. Almost exactly my sentiments.

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posted October 14, 2010 at 2:52 am

It Was Gods Will for 33 Men to live !! What 33 men can do to the world is another thing !!They Are Truely Blessed !! If you ever looked death in the eyes,you would understand life is not a gift it is a pleasure !! Live To Love and Love To LIVE !! God Bless !!

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Marc M

posted October 14, 2010 at 7:24 am

@ Kenneth;
“If God is really the omnipotent being we are told He is, why is it ever really a contest?
Read more:
The contest is within every man. God wins when we open our hearts to allow his mercy to save us.
God is not written out of the equation when a disaster ends in, well, disaster.
As to those who weren’t brought to the surface in past collapses, we don’t know what personal conflicts/victories took place in the hearts of miners who were trapped in other mine disasters
One would have to conclude without any evidence at all that God didn’t win in the hearts of those who perished in such disasters. A wicked man who repents as his ship sinks or his mine shaft caves in goes to an eternity in heaven, whilst up on the surface, another wicked man who doesn’t repent before he dies is doomed to eternal separation from God.
The man in the mine has shared in God’s victory over sin and eternal perdition.

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Deacon Jim

posted October 14, 2010 at 7:54 am

No one knows why tradgies like this happen, other than possibly from the greed of the mine owners. When profits come before safety, people suffer and end up in situations like this one, unfortunaltely most don’t end as happily!
When people make mammon their god tragedy often strikes!I thank God that these miners maintained their faith and that the outcome was as positive as it was not only for them but also for their families!
Our gospel(Lk. 18:1-8) for this coming 29th Sunday of Ordinary time is a good one to reflect on†

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posted October 14, 2010 at 8:31 am

it’s not a person’s faith that determines if they will live in situations like being in the mine. if you note that there were 3 ppl of faith that were thrown in the fire but note what they said(Daniel 3:16-18) also take notice what Jesus said about disaster in one insantce(Luke 13:1-5). Now is it to say that some deserve to be rescued while others not? We have all sinned and deserve death.God will show mercy and compassion on whom He wants to show it to (Exodus 33:19). We have this tendency that certian ppl should not have died; but who has the right to say that? none of us have the right to live because we are born sinners and enemies of God. This is why Christ came. God loved us that much that He wants us to be resuced from His wrath on all ungodliness. We need to be made eight with Him by confessing our sin and accepting Jesus as Lord. so what about the miners? who knows what God has planned for them but it will glorify His name in the end

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Peter D

posted October 14, 2010 at 8:44 am

My reflection on this keeps bringing up our Lord Jesus Christ calling to his friend Lazarus to bring him back to life (John 11:43) when says “Lazarus come out!”
Those brave men were called from the tomb of that mine. Jesus heard their prayers and those that were crying at tomb. Some might have believed that He would be too late, like Mary and Martha. But, he called them back to us.
What is glorious is that all the world can see the Glory of God!

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posted October 14, 2010 at 10:41 am

God has everything to do with it.I along with the world was watching this event unfold.And I like everyone else praying for these men and their families.I am thankful to the Lord for bringing them all up safely.It shows how people can set aside their differences and come together for the common good.My God is very real and He loves each and everyone of us.Even though I do not know any of these people,I rejoice with them for their safe return and I give all the praise and thanks to an “AWESOME GOD”who loves us beyond anything we can say or do.It was wonderful to watch all the people who were there to assist in the rescuing of these men.To say “thanks” is not enough.May God bless each and everyone one of you real good.

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posted October 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm

let me get this straight- its not all the hard work of the people working to get those miners out, not the engineering that allowed for a narrow hole to be drilled all the way down and the basket to travel back and forth through, but the invisible man in the sky-who, under your logic, trapped them down there in the first place? Ridiculous comments like this are why religion is “under attack” these days- the religous have completely broken from reality. God had the time to save the miners, but says screw it when it comes children being molested, floods in Pakistan, families losing their homes…I gotta tell you, if there is a God, he really, REALLY sucks at his job.

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posted October 14, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Matt, I agree that those blanket statements don’t make sense and sound fanciful. God is not vengeful, I don’t know why the mine collapsed, if it was greed, a fluke or what, but God did not collapse the mine, that isn’t how God works as I understand it. Faith in something or somebody is what helped keep these men alive in desperate circumstances. Man is the one who makes war, molests children, and nature is what cause floods and earthquakes, not God. I can’t help thinking about the men on the Russian sub The Kursk long ago, they all died, all the miners survived, that to me is a miracle. People came together and rejoiced at the men being brought to safety and the people who made it happen and their families that held it together. In their faces is where I see God.
Respectfully – Michelle

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Michele Szekely

posted October 14, 2010 at 2:34 pm

As most of the comments say (except matt), Yes, this is truly a beautiful moment to praise God and thank Him! Most people of faith prayed for the rescue of the miners and since there are many people of good will outside the faith, they certainly sent caring thoughts and good wishes, so, personnally, I saw it as a wonderful unifying moment. To thank God and to thank all involved, the president of Chile and the international scientific community, it’s truly great!
Except for a few (like matt) who used it to “complain” about God…which is kind of odd, I wonder, matt, what are you doing on “beliefnet”? Why are you posting such comments here of all places? I pray that the grace of God will touch you and melt your hardness of heart, I pray that the Holy Spirit will help you join in this moment of joy! (Isn’t it funny, you post grumpy comments and you get prayers in return?… )

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Mary Ransom

posted October 14, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I watched, I prayed, I cried, and I sighed a sigh of relief every time one was rescued. Afterwards I held my breath until the last rescuer was brought to the surface and I gave thanks to God for His love. I cannot imagine what they must have gone through, but apparently it was a spiritual event as well as a traumatic one. To God be the Glory.

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posted October 14, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Michele Szekely, Beliefnet is not just a site about different religions. I come here for the holistic articles, horoscopes, health advice etc…I’m not a religious person. I agree with Matt.

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posted October 14, 2010 at 5:04 pm

I am grateful that the miners survived and were saved. There is definitely a belief in God within the miners and that belief helped to sustain them through their trial. So in that regard, yes God helped.
But to attribute their survival solely on God’s Grace isn’t telling the whole story. Matt is correct in noting that there was a huge amount of human good will and effort put into saving the miners. I have no problem with Thanking God that they got out alive, I do have a problem saying that God Saved them, cause unless you got different info than I did, it was purely human means that got their bodies out of the mine and into the sun once again.
God made the world the way it is, God didn’t stop the miners from being trapped in the mine, therefore God is responsible for the miners being trapped in the first place. Saying that God gives us everything good is totally void of meaning. Honestly, if God gives us everything that is good, then we aren’t doing good but God is.

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posted October 14, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Oh! well, the discussion is taking such interesting turns! I can see the grace of God at work in the world but I’m not sure I’ll know how to explain it with words. Raphael is ready to thank God for the good outcome of the miners ordeal but only saw the “purely human means that got them out”… Aren’t you showing a bit of a contradiction here? Why thank God if he had nothing to do with the outcome? But, Rafael, the truth is that God works “with” us and “through” us, in visible ways and in some invisible manners too.
All the miners in Chile survived their ordeals sustained by faith (for some of them) and courage and hope and prayers (their own and the ones of the whole world). Yes, they were rescued by human hands, by a determinate ingenious and international effort but there is a reason for this and it is all part of God’s plan!

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posted October 14, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I respect Matt opinions but do not agree with his conclusions about religion. But if we take a too simplistic view of this miracle, I think we really miss the boat.
It took over 800 men working 24/7, a number of countries helped out, NASA sent help and designs, people united and because of their gifts, skills and dedication they were able to get the men out of the mine.
Too often religion can make people passive and that leads to not taking responsibility. Perhaps with all the problems the world is facing on every level,
this episode is a parable of what men and women can do when they pull together,
use their skills and gifts for the common good and benefit of others, put aside all petty differences and unite for the greater good of all, especially those most in need.
Think of how many serious ills could disappear if people and nations could pull together with the same concern, generosity and dedication that was shown in this rescue.
There is a beautiful quote from Vernerable Fr. Solanus:
“Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks- then the doing of your work shall be no miracle but you shall be a miracle.”
That to me is the biblical view!

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posted October 14, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Through the efforts of LOTS of men and equipment, the miners are safe and for the most part, sound, after their ordeal. Is a happy ending to what could have ended like many mine accidents—death of the people underground in that mine. Is All GOOD.

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posted October 19, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I disagreed with Matt’s ignorant mind. This is why the world is where it is… This world is going to be dust when we least expected. Soon everything will be legal because of ignorance. ” What we tolerate the next generation accepts ” If you think its because of peoples good will is the only reason why the minors made it alive, your wrong. God wants you to see what it is to have Faith, something man has lost! Pick up the first Book in this world, and read ” Deuteronomy ” Stop being ingorant! If not atleast google this “Deuteronomy 11:17″

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