The sinking of the British passenger ship Titanic, 100 years ago, was one of the greatest tragedies of history. The splendor of the vessel’s luxury knew no equal. With its sixteen watertight compartments, the ship was believed to be unsinkable even if two of those compartments flooded. The designer himself boasted, “not even God could sink the Titanic.”
On a much celebrated morning in April 1912, the Titanic set off from Southampton, England on its maiden voyage across the North Atlantic headed for New York harbor. At about 11:40 p.m. on April 14th, somewhere in the North Atlantic, she collided with a “small” iceberg that was believed to have torn a huge gash in the ship’s hull. About 2 ½ hours later, Titanic broke in two and plunged to its watery grave 12,500 feet below the surface, taking over 1500 passengers with her. The ship that “not even God could sink” was history. After the wreckage was discovered in 1985 and no gash was found, scientists concluded that the ship’s steel became brittle in the frigid water and fractured on impact. There is also reason to believe that in spite of warnings, the ship was travelling too fast for an area known to contain icebergs.
Many lessons can be learned from this terrible tragedy. Let’s consider three very simple ones.
God is opposed to the proud. The Titanic disaster reminds us that in the battle against pride, God always wins. I am not suggesting that God is some type of cosmic killjoy who found delight in arranging the details of the destruction, or was pleased with the death of His creatures (Ezek 18:23), but that He does not look lightly upon boasting–especially when man has the audacity to challenge Him. His Word says, GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE (Proverbs 3:34). God will not be mocked.
Sin is deceptive and destructive. Weighing up to one million short tons, the largest icebergs rise as much as 400 feet above the surface of the water, while one-seventh to one-tenth of its true mass remains hidden. Like an iceberg, the strength of sin lies below the surface. By focusing on that which we can see, i.e. outward behavior, we have failed to see the real, hidden problem—a heart that delights in rebellion. Jesus often rebuked the Pharisees for cleaning the outside of the cup, but neglecting to deal with the issues of the heart (Mark 7:1-15). The strength of sin lies in the depravity of the human heart. Like an iceberg, sin lets you see only a small part of its danger while hiding its destructive power beneath the surface. Sin delights in promising pleasure without pain, when in reality its true dividend is destruction.
God’s warnings are for our protection. Like the Titanic, the waywardness of our hearts often leads us to ignore God’s warnings and rush head-long into the fulfillment of our own will, often bringing upon ourselves painful consequences. One of the purposes of God’s Word is to warn us of the dangers of disobedience and the incredible ability of the human heart to remain in sin. Speaking of the commandments of God, David wrote, They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward (Ps 19:10-11). God’s Word is like a road sign that warns us of impending danger. May we always remember that His commands are for our good and His glory.
If the story of the Titanic interests you, Clive Anderson and Ann Sloane have written a new book you might enjoy: Silent Voices.