Lord is giver, sustainer of life

Published 12:14 am Monday, August 7, 2017

“I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure… God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my life… LORD, you have searched me and known me.” — Psalm 40:1-2, 54:4, 139:1

The day began like any normal day would out at sea for the Jascon 4, a West African Ventures tug-boat stationed off the coast of Nigeria in 2013. The mission was simple: tow a Chevron tanker 20 miles from one port to the next. A storm in the distance slowly made its way across the ocean, heading closer and closer to the Jascon 4. Just after 5 a.m., the storm collided with the Jascon 4 in the Gulf of Guinea. The crew was no match for the stormy sea, and the Jascon 4 capsized, its hull sticking out of the monstrous waves. Minutes later, the boat sank 90 feet to the ocean floor, everyone presumed dead.

After two days, a rescue diving team was sent to retrieve the bodies of the 11 men on board. Anchors were dropped near the sunken ship, followed by two men in full dive gear, splashing into the ocean. As they recovered 10 of the 11 bodies, they heard something unusual from the sunken tug, something mechanical sounding. They swam toward the noise up some sunken stairs in the hull. One of the divers determined it was a hammer hitting against a metal wall. The stairs emptied into a hallway that led to a small office on the right. The hammering continued. The diver went into the office and looked up, seeing an air pocket at the top of the room. As he surfaced, he saw something surreal and terrifying: a man sitting in pitch black, alive and deathly afraid. The diver was stunned, along with his operating commander who was watching everything on camera from the rescue boat 90 feet above.

Email newsletter signup

Who was this man? His name is Harrison Okene. When the Jascon 4 capsized, the pressure of the rising water in his cabin created an air pocket, trapping and protecting him for almost three days before rescue arrived. The divers brought him to safety aboard the rescue boat. Once he was on board, he began crying and giving praise to “his God and Savior” for sustaining his life. Okene later shared that when he awoke early that morning before the boat flipped, his wife sent a text message as encouragement reading: “Oh God, by Your name, save me… the Lord sustains my life.”

Can you imagine being trapped in total darkness under 90 feet of water for three days? Okene explained that while he sat there in the dark, his skin painfully turning soft from being in the water so long, he knew that this was life or death — he knew that trying to go past the outer wall of the air pocket would kill him. He grabbed the hammer when he heard the anchors drop onto the ocean floor and when the divers were talking to one another. Before they arrived, all Okene could do was pray, as Jonah did in the stomach of a large fish for three days. Only God could provide a way of escape.  Jesus has done this for you and me friends, because of our sin. We often find ourselves in situations where there seems to be no hope, no cure, no solution, no immediate fix. However, Jesus provides all our remedies and more — for those who believe in His name and call out to Him through unshakeable faith. This is why the gospel is so rewarding and refreshing. Jesus is our sustainer and the only way to eternal life. Embrace the truths of His Word and bring all your burdens to Him this week. Let Him show you how He brings us up from all pits of life and places our feet upon the rock. Jesus truly is the giver and sustainer of life — in this present life and the eternal one to come! Because of this, “Rejoice always!”
Seth Duhs is the minister of New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Natchez.