Tomorrow, Sunday 15th of April, is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic of the White Star Line.
Her name denotes enormous strength, size or power, and originates from the Titans of Greek mythology, a race of powerful gods who ruled over a great golden age. The thing is, though, that as great and powerful as the 12 Titans were, the legend goes that they were eventually overthrown. A race of younger, ambitious gods arose – the Olympians. Led by Zeus, the son of one of the Titans, the Olympians fought the great Titans over the course of a ten year battle called the Titanomachy, and eventually triumphed. As strong, powerful and seemingly in-control the Titans were – they were still overcome, much like the legendary ship herself.
Which gets to the heart of why I think we find the tale of the Titanic so unforgettable. It speaks to us of a truth we find unsettling and yet unshakeable – our vulnerability.
Aboard the Titanic, as everyone knows, were representatives of every class of the society of its time. Even the exorbitantly wealthy Astors couldn’t save themselves from a fate bigger than any bank balance.
We know, we are aware in the part of our hearts we sometimes try to keep quiet, that we, too, move through this life surrounded by a great mass of forces beyond our control, with little to no real visibility as to the horizon up ahead. We just don’t know what’s out there, up ahead, in the darkness. We don’t. And quietly, just quietly, we know that all the insurance we can purchase, or strategic plans we can make, or investments we can secure, can’t actually stand between us and a game-changing iceberg. As strong, powerful and seemingly-in-control as we might seem or feel – we can still be overcome.
Only to a point though.
There has always been some dispute as to the final song played by the band on board the Titanic as it sank, but a number of the survivors reported it to be the hymn ‘Nearer, my God, to thee.’ Things looked very bad. And this was one of the those moments when it looked very bad because it was, in fact, very bad. And yet as the words of that hymn declare, though we be like the wanderer; though the sun goes down; though darkness be over us; and though our rest be like a stone….yet. Yet we can, we always can, draw nearer to God. Because for all the vulnerabilities of this life, there is one thing that, when we do draw near to Him, can never be shaken; never be overcome. That is the confidence of our good secured – because no tragedy we meet in this life, is ever, truly, the end of the story.