2 Things We Can Learn From Shark Attack Survivors

This past Sunday, pro surfer Mick Fanning punched a great white shark.  How you stare at the face of danger and decide to take a swing at it I’m not too sure.  Fanning certainly set a new standard for bravery. However, the act of headlining courage that most news stories have left as a footnote is Fanning’s best friend and fellow surfer Julian Wilson. When he saw his friend being attacked, Wilson immediately started paddling toward Fanning as fast as he could.

It’s one thing to fight off danger, but you’re a total looney tune to willingly jump into it. Wilson, you’re crazy.  But you set an example of what true friendship should look like for all of us.  We need to be people who run towards each other in hardship. Who believe we have been saved to rescue someone else. Who knock out fear to fight for one another.

There’s an account in the Bible where a few guys had this Wilson-kind-of-crazy courage for their friend. In Mark 2, four men carried a paralyzed man on a mat to a home Jesus was preaching in.  They couldn’t get to Jesus so they cut a hole in the roof above his head and lowered their friend right in front of him. “Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers (Mark 2:11-12).”

Can you imagine the conversation that went on within the mind of Wilson or between the four men in the decision between fight or flight. "Do we save them or leave them?"  “You’re insane.” “Will this even work?” By examining the choice these men made to battle for bravery instead of backing away, what two things can we learn that will inspire us to overcome fear to fight for our friends?

1. Swim Toward The Shark James Hollingworth once wrote “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”  There will absolutely be sharks or walls or any other obstacle in our way when our friend needs help.  We’ll have to exhort effort to get to them and bring them back into a safe place. When freedom is on the other side of fear, the barriers are worth breaking through.

2. Misery is Ministry Rescue boats departed and Wilson swam towards Fanning to bring him to safety.  The four men carried their friend to his healing.  While most believe that ministry is a magical job with lots of miracle dust and a god genie, these men reveal to us that God isn’t the quite the wish granting type. He saves anyone actively asking to be rescued and works on behalf of those who are using what they have to be rescuers. We become the hands and feet of Jesus when are actually reaching out and running towards the hurt and hopeless. Ministry isn’t magic, it’s the hard work of moving misery into miracles.

While we may not ever jump into the biggest waves on the planet with a surf board or even think about getting on a roof with a drilling utensil, we will encounter someone in our lives who has been attacked by something.  They will be crippled by depression, doubt, or defeat.  Instead of turning the other way, rush towards them and pick them up.  God doesn’t want us to bring everyone into full recovery. That’s His job.  But when we see someone desperate for healing, he does expect us to extend help. We are the rescuers.

kaley thompson