I find understatements very interesting. You know the kind of thing – when there is a huge issue, problem or event about to happen, and it is spoken of as if it were nothing. Jim Lovell, an astronaut with the Apollo 13 crew, when all seemed lost because an oxygen tank had exploded when they were 200,000 miles above the earth, famously said, “Houston, we have a problem.” Now that is cool, calm and collected!
A Boeing 747 was being flown by Captain Eric Moddy when it flew into a cloud of dust spewed out by an eruption of Mount Galunggung, 110 miles south east of Jakarta. Oxygen masks dropped down when the plane steepened its descent and the captain had to tell the passengers they were having a problem: “Good evening ladies and gentlemen. This is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are all doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.” I think that was an alarming understatement! The plane did finally land safely in Jakarta.
Journalist, Sir Henry Morton Stanley, travelled 700 miles across Africa, facing all kinds of dangers on the way, and when he finally met Dr Livingstone, he famously declared, “Dr Livingstone I presume.”
Antarctic explorer, Laurence Oates was among five men who tried to return home from an ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1912. He is remembered for his act of self-sacrifice when, after realising that his ill health was slowing down his companions, walked from his tent into a blizzard and certain death, so as to increase his friends’ chances of survival. Before he walked out of the tent, he turned and said these words: “I am just going outside and may be some time.”
Jesus himself was understated in many ways. He had no servants, yet they called him Master. He had no degree, yet they called him Teacher. He had no medicines, yet they called him Healer. He had no army, yet kings feared Him. He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world. He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him. He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today. The Gospel of John, chapter 13 has one of the biggest understatements in the Bible. “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God…so he took off his outer garment, wrapped a towel round his waist…and washed his disciples feet.”
That’s the kind of God I believe in and have given my life to.
May you know God’s blessing today and always.