Friday, February 15, 2013

Cruise Ship Carnival Triumph disaster: think of it as a metaphor for the Tribulation

There was a Carnival Cruise ship that was disabled by a fire and floated powerless and helpless for five days, stranding over 4,200 passengers and crew before it was finally towed into port.

I was always leery of embarking on a cruise. If anything happened, and increasingly things do, you have nowhere to go and are at the mercy of the limits and boundaries of the ship. There is no escape.

I feel for the passengers, who really did undergo a terrible situation for days on end. Illness, unsanitary conditions, lack of water, stench, and hunger were the order of the day. Here are some of the snippets from one news story about the passengers' eventual safe disembarkation--
Passengers cheer escape from horrible cruise
"The vacation ship carrying some 4,200 people docked late Thursday in Mobile after a painfully slow approach that took most of the day. Passengers raucously cheered after days of what they described as overflowing toilets, food shortages and foul odors. Many were tired and didn't want to talk. There were long lines to check into rooms. Some got emotional as they described the deplorable conditions of the ship. "It was horrible, just horrible" said Maria Hernandez, 28, of Angleton, Texas, tears welling in her eyes as she talked about waking up to smoke in her lower-level room Sunday and the days of heat and stench to follow. She was on a "girls trip" with friends. She said the group hauled mattresses to upper-level decks to escape the heat. As she pulled her luggage into the hotel, a flashlight around her neck, she managed a smile and even a giggle when asked to show her red "poo-poo bag" - distributed by the cruise line for collecting human waste."

"The lower floors had it the worst, the floors 'squish' when you walk and lots of the lower rooms have flooding from above floors," Hill wrote. "Half the bachelorette party was on two; the smell down there literally chokes you and hurts your eyes." She said "there's poop and urine all along the floor. The floor is flooded with sewer water ... and we had to poop in bags." The company disputed the accounts of passengers who described the ship as filthy...
I well know the desperation of saving for years to go on a big vacation, the desperate hope that the weather will cooperate, the jealous countdown of the few days on the vacation compared to the towering number of days at work. (350 vs 15). I cannot imagine the heartbreak of honeymooners, anniversary couples, and families that were impacted by conditions that were described. But I want to take a moment's pause to explore two thoughts.

These are First World problems. So a few bachelorettes had to poop in a bag for a few days. Some of women on a "girls' trip" went without access to clean water for a few days. (A girls' trip is an extra in life, ladies.) They were a little bit hungry for a few days, and a little bit cold. They lived with a few days' uncertainty as to when their horrific situation will ever end.

There are billions of people all over the world who live that way for a lifetime.

Ghetto in Porto Alegro, Brazil

Foraging in a Tijuana dump for recyclables to sell, and for lunch

Children playing in their neighborhood, Cairo

Greeks fighting for free tomatoes and leeks thrown from a truck

Darlene Rosas, 66, lives alone in a condemned FEMA trailer 40 miles outside of Eagle Butte, S.D. (Source)

No, those are First World problems, the frustration of a person's thousands of dollars lost on a one-week vacation turned icky. Let's put this into perspective.

Secondly, think of the cruise ship as a microcosm of the earth. Look at the time of their misery as the time of the Tribulation. What happens when the infrastructure we depend on and take for granted suddenly breaks down? How do we react? Toilets, sewer treatment plants, trash pickup, roads for smooth transportation, government subsidized public transport, regular deliveries of groceries to stores ... all infrastructure and all privileges we take as our due. Somehow we think that access to food, water, sanitary conditions, and proper functioning of everything will always be so. If anything, the successive weather events of late have shown us how easily all that can and is disrupted. Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Joplin tornadoes in 2011, the Super-blizzard of 2013 show that large swathes of the nation can suddenly be floating powerless and helpless, with millions of people bemoaning their (hopefully) temporary situation.

What would a regular person in the US do when sanitary conditions, food, and freedom of movement are suddenly gone? There were two responses on the Carnival Triumph ship. One was that many turned to sin. It didn't take long, just a few days, before they resorted to savagery and fighting to get food.
"Conditions on board a cruise ship stranded in the Gulf of Mexico have deteriorated dramatically, reportedly leaving passengers fighting over food and the vessel caked in urine and raw sewage. Passengers on board the US cruise ship Carnival Triumph, which has been stranded since Sunday after an engine fire, are using mobile phones to convey tales of carpets soaked in urine and passengers sleeping in tents on deck. Food supplies are said to be running low, with passengers forced to queue for hours for cold onion and cucumber sandwiches, and there are also reports of fights breaking out as groups of “savages” fight over the dwindling supplies."
Other reports indicated that the people complained, slept for escape, fought, and were "crying and freaking out."

Others did the opposite. They formed a Bible study group.
Joseph and Cecilia Alvarez of San Antonio said some passengers passed the time by forming a Bible study group. "It was awesome," he said. "It lifted up our souls and gave us hope that we would get back." (source)
Still envisioning the cruise ship as earth, and the total breakdown of everything on that ship as the coming Tribulation, some cruise ship passengers decided to think of others and of Jesus rather than their temporary earthly conditions. This is the second response. While some were moaning and crying and sleeping and fighting, others during the Tribulation delved into their faith in Jesus and patiently endured the trials that were set before them. Their faith lifted up their souls and give then hope that they will get back home. (Revelation 14:12).

Below is a Lyle Ratliff/Reuters photo, and the caption says "Passengers cheer after disembarking from the Carnival Triumph cruise ship after reaching the port of Mobile, Alabama, February 14, 2013." Taking a moment to stretch the metaphor of the stranded cruise ship being a crippled earth during the Tribulation, these two ladies, covered in robes of righteousness, praise the Lord for their release from sinful and deteriorating conditions. OK, not really. But it's nice to imagine.

If you are alive and unsaved during the time of the rapture, you will enter a time where conditions such as described on the cruise ship will erupt, and in fact be a million times worse. You will have two responses: retreat further into your sin, or turn to Jesus for release from bondage to that sin. You will not escape the conditions, unless you die, which is a severe likelihood. But you will have hope and your soul will be uplifted. You will see that grace abounds, that He is eternal and your conditions are temporary.

However, you can escape all these things in the first place by turning to Jesus now. Once you repent of your sins and He becomes the Lord of your life, He sends the Holy Spirit to indwell you. You gain a perspective that whatever conditions you are enduring now are merely inconveniences that will end at the rapture. At that time you will receive your glorified body and live in eternal grace and perfection with Jesus.

The earth is like the Carnival Triumph, a floating petri dish of putrefaction and decay, people stuck there with no hope of getting away from the worsening conditions. Except in real life, there is hope: Jesus. That's why we need to tell the passengers on this ship of earth that the savior is coming and the ship will be saved. There is a way off, away from polluted hallways and hopeless people. He is coming to deal with sin and sinners, and to renew the earth. (2 Peter 3:10), Revelation 21:1). The way is to repent of sins and look to Jesus for all things. He is coming soon. Though the passengers on the Triumph ship took four hours to get off, the rapture will be a moment, a blink and we are gone, changed forever.
"Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality." (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
Christians, in troublous times, turn to the bible. Turn to where there is hope and comfort. Start a bible study. Discuss the hope and joy of Jesus with like-minded people. You will feel better. Non-Christians, and I mean all other people including atheists, Catholics, pagans, Buddhists, Mormons..., turn to Jesus as your hope. The fear and darkness you feel inside is the lack of HIM in you. Salvation does not guarantee a resolution to your uncomfortable or unwanted conditions. If you are paralyzed, you will still be paralyzed. If you have MS, you will still have MS. If you are poor in Cairo, you will likely still be poor in Cairo. What salvation affords you, in addition to grace and rescue from the coming wrath, (Romans 5:9), is an eternal perspective that helps you cope with current conditions. You receive comfort from God as to His love and watchful notice of you, His little sparrow. You gain an understanding that a few years or decades of discomfort in this life does to equate to the billions and billions and billions of ages in eternity with the Perfect. (1 Corinthians 13:10).

Today is the day of your salvation. Now is the eternal hope come to dwell in you! To the unsaved the Spirit says:
For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)

But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. (Psalm 69:13)
To the saved the Spirit says:
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)

1 comment:

  1. How ironic to be named "Triumph" after becoming a floating petri dish. Reminds me of the Titanic.

    I think of it as a metaphor of all who are swimming in their sins of homosexuality, abortion, same sex marriage, sleeping around committing adultery. You name it.

    I think of the passage in Genesis 18:20 "Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know."

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Kay Cude poetry: The Wondrous Draw

Kay Cude poetry, Used with permission. Click to enlarge. It gets really big.