Maritime law demands that a commanding officer must go down with the ship. In both culture and practice, it is considered a sacred duty for officers to put the safety of the crew and passengers ahead of themselves. When an officer fails to do so, like Captain Francesco Schettino did in 2012 as the Costa Concordia sank, there’s both personal shame and legal consequences (Associated Press, “Key Dates in Costa Concordia Shipwreck, Trial and Cleanup,” January 12, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/business-europe-italy-francesco-schettino-92856aa9623837920d9540b484197208). In most cases, though, commanding officers go down with their vessels bravely. Perhaps the most famous of all such officers was Edward Smith, who went down with the Titanic in 1912. Legends about that night remember him saving a child’s life before being plunged in the water. While his responsibility for ignoring early ice warnings lingers, the memory of his courage remains strongest. He did not abandon his people. At any point in the faithlessness of God’s people, God could have abandoned us. He did not. We can trust that God will never abandon any one of us. Such love deserves our love in return.
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