Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8
The night was cold and frigid as the U.S. transport ship Dorchester plowed through the waters of the North Atlantic off the coast of Greenland. Aboard were 902 troops, most of whom were tossing in their bunks, thinking of the German U boats which patrolled the waters. About 1 A.M. the tranquility was shattered by a direct hit by a torpedo. The ship took on water quickly, and the boat began to sink. The date was February 3, 1943, a day forever etched by the deeds of brave men. Aboard were four Army chaplains--two Protestants, a Jew and a Catholic--who took off their life jackets and gave them to men who had none.
As the deck of the ship listed and waters began to pull the vessel to its grave below, the four chaplains held hands, their arms linked, and prayed. Survivors eventually related the deed of brotherhood and heroism to the press, and newspapers throughout the world carried stories extolling what these four had done.
One of those chaplains was First Lieutenant Clark Poling whose father was Dr. Daniel Poling, editor of Christian Century magazine for many years. It is the story behind the story which makes this even more meaningful.
When Clark was in college, he called his father one day and said, "Dad, I've got to talk to you. Don't tell mom, but I'm coming home." Sure enough! He did come home. If you had been the father, what might you have thought?
It was a somber father who met the young man at the train and drove to his office. The dad closed the door and then it came out. "Dad, I've got to know for myself. What do you know about God?" That was it. "What do you know about God?"
Much of that conversation was off the record, but telling of the incident later, the father said, "Son, He will never fail you; He will never let you down!"
I've been thinking of people who have poured out their hearts to me--lonely, feeling abandoned by friends and family, and, sometimes, feeling even abandoned by God. In the midnight hours of his life, a young man found that God could be counted on, that He would not let you down. Even as the ship sank, Clark discovered that "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms..." as Moses wrote (Deuteronomy 33:27).
The greatest battles in life are usually one-on-one encounters with testing. This was true of Jesus' life. Take time to read the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew in your New Testament, and visualize Jesus as he prayed in Gethsemane. He was abandoned by his friends and alone, yet He was not forsaken by God.
Like Clark--who made the decision not in the moment of crisis but long before--most people decide that they will trust God ahead of the time of testing. It is then when they decide, "I am going to trust Him who said, `I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you'" (Hebrews 13:5, NASB). Their mind is made up. They know what they will do when the ship of life takes a hit from some torpedo and everything they have or believe is challenged.
Is God really enough? Can you trust Him in the time of crisis? If the record of 2000 years of history means anything--from the testimonies of those in prison to the dying words of men and women--you can trust God to meet you in the time of crisis. Daniel Poling told his son what you can learn: "He will never fail you; He will never let you down." Of that you can be sure.
Resource reading: Psalm 62.