Here is a question for you…
What is the name of a ship that is comparable to the Empire State building, longer than the Eiffel Tower’s height and when loaded, weighs more than twenty-two Eiffel Towers?
I doubt any of us have a clue to the answer but if I were to ask you the name of the ship that ran aground at the Suez Canal on 23 March while travelling from Malaysia to Rotterdam, I might have better luck. If you guessed, ‘Evergreen’, you’re wrong! The answer is ‘Ever Given’, one of the largest container ships in the world.
The canal, ‘strategically and economically one of the most important waterways in the world’ is a 195kms long shipping link between the Mediterranean and Red seas that carries 10 to 12% of commercial shipping and about 2.5% of the world’s oil. With Ever Given wedged across the Suez Canal, shipments worth an estimated $9.5 billion (including Ikea furniture!) per day were held up, threatening considerably global trade at a time when the world economy was already fragile. Not surprisingly, the price of crude oil shot up 6% on the day Ever Given was stuck.
When the CEO of a dredging company said that the operation to refloat the stranded vessel could take weeks after initial attempts failed, there were genuine fears that there was a global crisis in the making. Then suddenly, news came that Ever Given was finally dislodged on Monday, 29March and traffic has resumed in the Suez Canal. The world can breathe a huge sigh of relief.
As we celebrate the greatest Christian event of all, the resurrection of the Lord, let’s not forget that only days earlier, Jesus was dead and in the tomb. All hope was gone for his disciples but then suddenly, they came upon an empty tomb. In that short space of time, grief turned to joy; despair turned to hope and celebration. Things can turn around every quickly.
When Paul and Silas were stripped, severely flogged and thrown into prison for preaching the gospel, they didn’t spend time feeling sorry for themselves. Instead, they were praying and singing hymns to God. Surrounding prisoners listed in. “Suddenly there was a such a violent earthquake…At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose” (Acts 17:26). The jailer sworn to guard Paul and Silas became Christians along with his family. Things can turn around quickly.
Susan Coolidge, a 19th century American children’s author was right, “Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day were just three days apart”. Things can turn around. This is the message of the resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps, things may not turn around but because the tomb is empty, our hearts need no longer be empty in whatever we are going through. We are no longer on our own.