Summary: Using quotes from sailors who survived the sinking of USS Indianapolis this sermon demonstrates how perspecive and point of reference impact our state of happiness. Several reasons for Christian Optimism are discussed.
II Tim. 1:12
On July 16, 1945 the USS Indianapolis left the San Francisco Bay carrying mysterious box to Tinian, a small island in the west Pacific. Nobody knew that in the box was the Atomic Bomb that
the Enola Gay would soon drop on Hiroshima. After making the delivery the Indianapolis headed for the Philippine Islands.
At 12:14 a.m. on July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea and sank in 12 minutes. Of 1,196 men on board, approximately 300 went down with the ship. The remainders, about 900 men, were left floating in shark-infested waters with no lifeboats and most with no food or water. The ship was never missed, and by the time the survivors
were spotted by accident four days later only 316 men were still alive.
Harlan Twimble, one of the survivors told of their ordeal.
“Toward nightfall of the first day it became evident to me that no one had seen us. No one had heard us and no alarms had been received by those on shore. No planes had showed up, no ships had shown up and this started to frighten the men. They started to question whether or not this was the fact.
I then decided that we had to get their minds off of what they were thinking and I said, "Let us pray." And I became the chaplain of the group. And I led the men in prayer and it was a most solemn sight to see these men who just a few minutes before had been scared and frightened to death, place themselves in the hands of the Lord. And we prayed and when the prayers were over the men had quieted. The first night didn’t bring any great surprises, but the second day did.
It wasn’t too late in the second day, after daybreak, when the first sharks arrived. Again this brought unbelievable fear into our group. None of us had ever fought sharks. All of us knew that sharks were not man’s best friend. During the morning, several people drifted away from the nets. They’d cut themselves loose and we noticed that, I noticed that these were the men that were attacked the most. These were the men that the sharks took first. I then decided that we had to have a shark watch and I asked everybody to participate in it. And we set up a watch and I asked that as soon as anyone saw a shark to scream shark and then we would all kick and scream -- try to create commotion and dishevel the sharks. We did this from that day on. We always had a shark watch; we always had people watching for sharks.
This continued for several days. We had men dying of wounds. We had men dying of dehydration. We had men dying of saltwater. I attempted to convey to the people in the water the fact that the best thing we could do would be to stick together, not drink any water and help each other. We were very successful at doing this. We went into the water with 325 people and we came out with about 171.”
Here is part of L.D. Cox’s story. Notice particularly his reaction to rescue.
“Well we thought that, that’s it. It’s getting nearly dark. And the guys were out of their heads about half the time. And I guess I was mine. I did tie my life jacket in hard knots with all the string so that I couldn’t take mine off.