In October 1972 a rugby team was flying to South America on Flight 571 when their plane crashed into the Andes mountains. High up in the mountains they had no means of survival as they waited and hoped for rescue. A few chocolates and a few bottles of wine kept them alive for a few days, but then it ran out quickly. They were in a terrible situation. If they tried to cross the Andes mountains on foot they would die. If they stayed they would die.
It came down to doing the unthinkable. They began to eat the bodies of those that had perished in the crash and were frozen in the snow. Eventually they realized even that wasn’t enough so they sewed together sleeping bags from the plane seats, packed up some organs for food, and two of them trekked into the impossible in a Hail Mary attempt to find a way out.
Eventually they did get to the bottom of the mountain range and met someone. They were rescued and so were the remaining people alive on the mountain which was stunning as their families had already had their funerals. It then became an international issue not just of their rescue abut how they had resorted to cannibalism to live the couple of months on the mountain.
It’s Happened Before
Life can get beyond awful. Seriously awful. In this historical account of Israel, the Arameans were laying siege to Israel. The Israelites were trapped in the city with little food or water. If they left, they would die. If they stayed, they would die.
So one woman made a deal with another woman. They agreed to eat each other’s (presumably deceased) children to stay alive. But they ate one son, then when they went to eat the other son she refused. The woman whose son had already been eaten complained to the king that the other woman wouldn’t share the body of her son for food.
It really was that bad.
In great anguish the king tore his clothes. He then went on a murderous rampage, blaming Elisha for the severity of the times. Being a prophet, Elisha knew that the king was trying to kill him, so he didn’t answer the door when the army officer came knocking.
Elisha told the king and the army officer that the next day there would be an abundance of food and provision enough for all. The army officer guffawed and said there was no way. They were all starving to death. How could this be? Because of his unbelief, Elisha told him he would not eat of the abundance.
The next day the Lord sent confusion into the camp of the enemy (this is a prayer I pray) and the mighty mass all fled leaving everything behind. Two men with skin diseases found and it first, privately feasted. Then afterwards realized that what they were doing was wrong:
Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace” (2 Kings 7:9).
All Israel came out and they ate the abundance with food leftover just like Elisha had said. But the army officer was trampled in the melee and was killed, not able to enjoy the abundance. Again, just like Elisha had said.
Things to Think On
This event actually is troubling. When in the most dire of circumstances, it’s hard to believe that extraordinary events will take place. It’s the issue of faith in the face of obvious impossibility. Yet God does these things. The question is when we hear what is about to take place, how will we respond? Will I respond in faith or unbelief?