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Summary: I looked at the Feb 2003 S.S.Columbia disaster for 2 thoughts: 1) where do we go when hard times hit and 2) what happens when Christians wipe out and give up in their faith?

Psalm 46:1-3 – Crash and Burn

Yesterday was a sad day for the world. It was not a tragedy to the same scale as September 11, 2001. In fact, even normal plane crashes take more lives than the disaster yesterday. Yet there is something very sad of the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia yesterday morning at about 10AM our time. Seven astronauts – 6 from the States, and one from Israel – lost their lives when they were returning to earth from a two-week science trip in outer space.

The shuttle lost contact with the ground at about 10AM, an expected happening because of the turbulence that comes when you’re entering the atmosphere again from outer space. At the time, the shuttle was traveling at about 12,500 miles an hour, or Mach 18, 18 times the speed of sound. However, the control center on the ground was not able to re-establish contact with the shuttle after this expected communication blackout. As yet, we don’t know what happened during that blackout. We just know that the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded, 200,000 feet above the ground, about 39 miles, killing all seven on board.

Where do you go when life takes unexpected turns? Do you wander around aimlessly, lost in yourself and your problems? Do you immerse yourself in a hobby, attempting to shut out the world around you? Where do you turn when the world would crash and burn? Psalm 46 tells us what God is like even when our trials surround us.

PS 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Let’s be honest. Even as people who love the Lord and want to please Him in all we do, don’t we sometimes feel that the mountains are crashing? Don’t we feel that the ocean waters would seek to drown us? Don’t we occasionally feel that all our security around us is shaken because of the hard times in life? It’s OK to feel this way sometimes. God said that hard times would come. Persecution, betrayal, loneliness, rejection, sickness, even death… these are normal and a part of life. I encourage you: turn to God.

Psalm 46 tells us that God is a refuge. It means that He is a place of rest. A place of trust. A place of hope. In the OT, there were several cities called cities of refuge. These were places that if you had accidentally killed someone, you could go there and be safe from vengeful family members until a fair trial could happen. You were safe from those who would seek to harm you. This is what God is. The very enemy of our souls seeks to devour, and he’ll use any method that works: discouragement, depression, bitterness, anger, hatred, bigotry, pride… All based on lies and fear, which are just the opposite of who God is: truth and love. If the enemy can get us to think that God doesn’t care, or He isn’t listening, or this sin is OK, then we pull away from our refuge. And we become prey for the predator of our hearts. I encourage you again: turn to God. Trust in Him. Lean on Him when times get tough. Lay your burdens at His feet.

Yes, people who are even Christians will fail you. You weren’t the first; you won’t be the last. Take a number and have a seat, please. But just because people fail us sometimes doesn’t mean that God fails us, and it doesn’t mean that every person in the world will fail you either. It does mean that when tough things happen in life, you can either turn to God for refuge, or turn away from Him. And 100% of the time, the choice is yours.

But, stepping aside from this passage, as I watched the TV yesterday, I thought of how the Columbia disaster is very similar to what happens sometimes in Christians. How many believers have you ever seen crash and burn? Wipe themselves out? Give up and go home? Quit trying, trusting, hoping, praying?

Well, without being disrespectful or shallow over what happened yesterday, I’d like us to compare the Columbia disaster to a shipwreck of the soul, what happens when believers crash and burn.

1) I remember making a plastic model of the Space Shuttle Columbia, hanging it in my room as a young kid. The Columbia was the very first Space Shuttle, first launched in 1981. NASA has made 113 trips into space with different shuttles, and this was the 28th trip to space for the Columbia, designed to make 100 trips. In order to have a 23-year-old spaceship still running, it needed regular maintenance. Crash-and-burn believers ignore regular maintenance. They say, “I don’t need to go to church”, ”I don’t need to pray”, ”I don’t need… whatever… to be saved.”

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