The sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago is still the source of fascination and endless speculation about what really happened and what might've prevented the disaster. There are times for all of us, however, when the difference between today and tomorrow is titanic.
The difference between today and tomorrow can be immense — the space between now, and next, vast. One hundred years ago today, on April 14, 1912, what was then the world’s largest luxury liner, rightly named Titanic (which means enormous, gigantic, colossal) was plowing through the icy North Atlantic on its maiden voyage from England to New York City.
It carried luminaries and millionaires, officials and tourists, officers and deckhands, plus more than 700 immigrants — about 2,200 in all.
Most aboard were going about their business or pleasure, expecting tomorrow to be much like today. Those in first- or second-class may have strolled the grand promenade, visited the library, swum in the pool, exercised in the gymnasium, or even enjoyed a Turkish bath.
Chances are, immigrant passengers had conversations about the hopes and promises of life in America.
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And everyone felt safe since the RMS Titanic was deemed “unsinkable” because of the ship’s double bottom and 16 watertight compartments.
But at 11:40 p.m. on the 14th, the ship scraped an iceberg and began taking on water. At 2:20 a.m. on the 15th, the Titanic would plunge 2 ½ miles to the ocean floor. In that short span — less than three hours — fortunes, futures and families were forever altered as more than 1,500 passengers, from every rank and social strata, lost their lives.
That early 1900s maritime tragedy is still the source of fascination and speculation about what really happened and what might’ve prevented the disaster.
There are times for all of us when the difference between today and tomorrow is titanic. Our “iceberg” may be a jarring midnight phone call, an unexpected pink slip or a devastating diagnosis.
Calamity can slice through our unsinkable lives, making us long to turn the clock back and have things go on as before.
When we’re in deep waters of trouble, our futures often hinge on the things that might’ve saved many, if not all, on the Titanic.
And when it comes to our spiritual life and health, how we choose among these options makes all the difference:
• Determined action or deferment. The Titanic received at least seven warnings about icebergs, but plowed forward without slowing. When Captain E.J. Smith read one of the warning messages, he handed it without comment to Bruce Ismay, director of the White Star Line (Titanic’s builder), who reportedly stuffed it in his pocket.
It’s easy for us to delay taking action that could prevent potential problems, especially if we’re not feeling their full effects. Someday — we’ll deal with this drinking problem, if it really gets out of control. Someday — we’ll put more effort into our marriage and spend more time with our kids. Someday — we’ll figure out what we believe about God and take action on our beliefs — someday.
• SOS or silence. Although the Californian was less than 10 miles away when the Titanic was sinking, that vessel never received its calls because the wireless operator closed his set at 11:30 p.m. Keeping the lines of communication open with those around us is vital, especially when we’re struggling. Sadly, the muteness is more often on our part — it’s hard to ask for help. But this gives me hope when I’m sinking: God never shuts down for the night, and he welcomes my SOS 24/7. Psalm 145:18 says:
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
English Standard Version
• Panic or a plan. Despite its luxury, the Titanic carried 20 lifeboats — not nearly enough for those onboard, and there had never been an emergency drill. The time to consider what to do when in trouble is before it happens.
But even our best plans may not always be enough. What then? We can panic, or put our trust in the one never taken by surprise — the one rightfully called Savior by those of us who know we can’t stay afloat by ourselves. We can say with the psalmist David:
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
New International Version
For those bobbing in the cold North Atlantic on April 15, 1912, hope seemed remote — until they saw the lights of rescue vessels. In a matter of hours, those who survived through the frigid night would be safe, warm and dry again, with their lives ahead of them.
Please don’t give up if you find yourself just barely holding on to the last piece of debris from a shipwrecked life. Call out to the God who promises to hear and be near through all the spaces between now and next.
The difference between today’s loss and tomorrow’s hope can be immense — and the joy of a rescued heart, titanic.
Jodi Detrick is a minister with the Northwest Ministry Network (Assemblies of God). She is also a public speaker, an author and a life coach. Readers may send feedback to