Luck, or Miracle? Thinking about Baltimore Bridge Survivors

Jim Denison | Denison Forum | Updated: Apr 03, 2024
Luck, or Miracle? Thinking about Baltimore Bridge Survivors

Luck, or Miracle? Thinking about Baltimore Bridge Survivors

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The first section of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge has been removed from the Patapsco River and officials have opened a temporary shipping route around the wreckage. Meanwhile, we continue to learn more about those who survived the March 26 Baltimore bridge collapse.

Larry Desantis drove over the bridge every day for sixteen years on his commute to his job at a Maryland bakery. Shortly after crossing over that morning, it collapsed. “It makes me think, you  know. I mean, I’m really lucky,” he said afterward. “One minute later, I wouldn’t be here.”

By contrast, the wife of a construction worker who survived the collapse said, “My husband doesn’t know how to swim. It is a miracle he survived.”

Which was it: Luck or a miracle?

And what about those who did not survive—were they unlucky, or did God not favor them as he did those he spared miraculously?

We can ask our questions from a faith perspective that seeks to understand the biblical worldview better and communicate it more effectively. Or we can ask them from a skeptical perspective that counts unexplained suffering as evidence against the Christian faith.

Both sides see the same evidence but come to very different conclusions. Choosing the right perspective is vital, not just for our personal flourishing but also for our national future.

“The spirit that governed the American people changed”

N. S. Lyons is the pen name of an essayist working in the US foreign policy community in Washington, DC. He is the author of an article that appeared yesterday on UnHerd titled, “The Constitution won’t save America: It has lost touch with the nation’s twisted soul.”

Lyons makes this urgent argument: the US Constitution’s words were “an attempt to encapsulate the Founders’ expression of the young Anglo-American nation’s implicit, unwritten constitution.” By “unwritten constitution” he means “the unconscious, historically accumulated essence of the nation’s organic and fundamental collective character: its public spirit, way of life, and common understanding of authority and the moral laws of right and wrong.”

The document this “unwritten constitution” produced was thus “a map, a symbolic representation of a cultural and spiritual territory.” As such, apart from this “territory,” it “has no more intrinsic power than any other piece of paper.”

In the generations since, Lyons writes, “the spirit that governed the American people changed as they changed, and the corresponding unwritten constitution withered away and was replaced by a new intrinsic constitution.” Tragically, “the unwritten constitution animating the American state today bears almost no resemblance at all to that preserved in the historical relic of the Constitution.”

A prophetic declaration

This insight helps explain how Supreme Court justices, reflecting the shifting mores of the sexual revolution, came to discover rights to abortion and same-sex marriage in a document whose framers would have rejected both. It explains why a nation built upon a moral consensus grounded in the Judeo-Christian worldview could veer so far from its ideological roots while remaining governed (so to speak) by the document these roots produced.

And it shows us the urgent need for a spiritual and moral movement to rebuild these foundations before the house upon which they were built is too far gone to be repaired. As Lyons writes:

If we want to... restore any substance to the Constitution, then what will be called for is nothing less than a sustained and determined national cultural, intellectual, religious, and political counter-revolution sufficient to remold the very animating spirit of the state (his italics).

Yesterday I quoted Rev. Greg Laurie’s response to the White House’s proclamation recognizing the Transgender Day of Visibility on the same day as Easter: “It’s time to turn back to God, not turn our backs on God.” He followed his statement with this prophetic declaration:

“We need to repent and pray for a spiritual awakening in America. It is our only hope.”

I could not possibly agree more.

“By your favor our horn is exalted”

As we noted on Easter Monday, the changed lives of Jesus’ followers can be our most persuasive argument for the resurrection today. People in a “post-truth” culture can dismiss our facts and evidence as “our truth,” but they cannot dismiss the power of our changed lives. When they see the relevance of the risen Christ to us, they are drawn to his relevance for themselves.

But here’s the catch: To be the change we wish to see, you and I need the power of the risen Christ every day.

We are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16), but fallen people cannot become holy without the help of a holy God. Criminals cannot pardon themselves. Sinners cannot save themselves. Those in prison cannot free themselves. Lost people cannot direct themselves.

The psalmist testified to God: “You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them” (Psalm 89:9). He continued:

Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lᴏʀᴅ, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted. For you are the glory of their strength, and by your favor our horn is exalted (vv. 15–17).

We can say “our shield belongs to the Lᴏʀᴅ” when “our king is the Holy One of Israel” (v. 18).

Who is your “king” today?

Image credit: ©Getty Images / Scott Olson / Staff

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

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Luck, or Miracle? Thinking about Baltimore Bridge Survivors