As I sit here writing I am watching the emotional screens as the 33 Chilean Miners are brought to the surface having spent 69 days trapped in the San Jose mine in Chile. They are images which many of us will never forget and as they come, one by one, to the surface bells rang out across Chile and people make their ways to the streets to celebrate.
What for me was the most powerful image was the way in which as the miners moved from darkness to light that they fell on their knees looking to the heavens with eyes covered by sun glasses and thanked God with gratitude. Despite the time they had spent trapped their faith appeared to have been strengthened.
But maybe the biggest test of their faith is yet to come. They now return to their families whose Jobs, school and ordinary family life were put on hold and as they restart their lives where they left off they face the world media as heroes. The Rev. Joel Edwards on radio 4’s Thought for Today on the 14th October 2010 spoke to us of Mario Sepulveda who said “The only thing that I ask for my own sake,” he said, “is that you don’t treat us like celebrities or journalists. I want you to continue to treat me like Mario Sepulveda: worker, miner.”
Edward’s comments:’ Personally I hope that their ordeal gives them an even better quality of life. But in principle Mario is right. For the faith which can withstand a mountain can also crumble under praise.
I suspect that is what lies behind Solomon’s proverb. “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.” The world watched as these men’s faith battled against the odds and won. And now all of us who wished them well must do our very best to preserve that faith which has emerged to face the future. ‘
Let us pray for them as for ourselves that the faith that God who has brought us from darkness to light preserve our faith as we face our future whatever that may hold.