Landing on the Hudson: Whose Miracle?

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.
does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth.
one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?"
Daniel 4:35

Like most of you, I was amazed at the skill and split-second
judgment of Pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger of US Air Flight 1549,
as he put the plane down in the Hudson River with no loss of life. I watched
one video clip in astonishment that showed passengers climbing out onto the
wings of the plane within 25 seconds after the plane settled down after the
splash. One of the ferries arrived on the scene three minutes later! As I
listened to and read the various news reports over the next several days, the
praise for the crew, the first responders, the passengers, and all concerned
continued to grow. In response to all of this Captain Sullenberger said,
"We were simply doing the jobs we were paid to do."

With the exception of a few references to prayer, one person
about whom I did not hear much in all of the reporting was God. Be sure to make
this point to your children. The safety of all of those on the plane is
directly attributable to God and his purposes. This has been ignored in the
news. Justin Taylor has linked to a helpful article by John Piper on just how
involved God was in the incidents leading up to the impact with geese and the
landing in the river. As King Nebuchadnezzar declared 2,500 years ago, God does
as he pleases with the peoples of the earth!

Suppose Captain Sullenberger had not been able to effect a
flawless water landing. Suppose, just as he was about to touch down, that a
sudden burst of wind had caught one of the wings and caused the plane to sideslip
into a spectacular cartwheel  that would
have resulted in the deaths of all 155 passengers on board. The Miracle on the
Hudson would have become the Tragedy on the Hudson. Would it have been because
the pilot was less skilled? Would the flight crew have been less capable? Would
the first responders have been any less alert? Yet, if this event had ended in
significant loss of life, this same pilot’s judgment would have been
questioned. Questions could have been asked about why the first responders were
not on the scene more quickly. What is the difference between the hypothetical
scenario I just described and the actual event? The difference would have been
the purposes and actions of God.

From miracle to tragedy – the cause of both is found in the
purposes of God. When God chooses to show his forbearance and preserve lives,
it is an opportunity to explain to your children that God shows mercy so that
man would be reminded of God’s control and reach out to him in repentance. If
this event had resulted in a chilling cartwheel of death, it would also have been
a merciful reminder that God is God, that people’s lives are in his hands and
it is foolish to delay repentance.

Parents, use opportunities like this one to remind your
children (and yourself) just how dependent we are upon God even for our next
breath. Encourage your children to learn their responsibilities well, as
Captain Sullenberger did. But then call them to entrust themselves to God, the One
who holds all things in the power of his mighty hand.

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