Saturday, January 17, 2009

Is It A Miracle?

You've no doubt heard about the "Miracle on the Hudson" by now, referring to the plane that was safely crash landed in the Hudson river after losing both engines to bird strikes. Not a single passenger on the plane was seriously injured - something that we can all thank God for.

Everyone in the media and those aboard the plane are calling this a "miracle" (as is noted by the name the media has given the event: "Miracle on the Hudson"). But for some reason, using the terminology of "miracle" doesn't sit well with me. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely think that the fact that this plane landed somewhat safely and all passengers avoided injury is absolutely remarkable. But to say that this is something miraculous is, I don't think, quite accurate.

For starters, pilots are trained, re-trained, and trained again to handle these situations. The pilot of this plane merely let his training take over when he realized there were problems, and the training worked: he landed the plane safely. Nothing miraculous about that. He just did what he was trained to do.

Also, I'm a little put off by what can almost be described as hero worship when it comes to the pilot. I'm sure that he would be the first to tell you that he didn't do anything extraordinary - he just did what he was trained to do. But a lot of people are calling him a hero, and are becoming his "fans." Somebody set up a Facebook page for this guy, and he currently has 253,916 "fans" and counting (note: he was only at about 206,000 a few hours ago). Don't get me wrong: this man's level headed actions are what saved the passengers on board that plane, and he should be commended for it, but is he really a hero?

I'm not trying to be a wet blanket here, just trying to see things in perspective. If we want to call this a miracle, then we should also look at the fact that I drove home safely tonight and didn't die (after all, I am more likely to die on my way home than I am in a plane) as a miracle as well.

If anything, this instance is merely an example of what is called the "common" grace of God. In other words, the only thing that prevented that plane from crashing and killing all people on board was the grace of God. If the human race (sinners) received what it deserved from God, EVERYONE would die on their car-ride home. Everyone would die on their next plane trip. Everyone would be struck dead by lightning. It's only by the common grace of God that those things don't happen. In fact, it's only by the common grace of God that I have air in my lungs and that my heart is beating as I write this. It's only by the common grace of God that you are sitting where you are, reading this. In other words, the only reason you and I aren't dead is that God has been merciful, graceful, and kind towards us. If we were given what we truly deserve (the just anger of God for our sin), we wouldn't even be having this conversation. All the more reason to repent! Who knows when the common grace of God will be lifted off my life?

So then, if you want to say that God's common grace in and of itself is a miracle, then by all means, label this plane crash as a miracle. Let's just be sure to give credit where credit is due - to God. Instead of exalting Capt. Sullenberger for his heroic actions, exalt God that he saw fit to spare the lives of those passengers. And glorify God, that he has allowed you to live as well.

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