A man on a deserted island placed a message for help in a bottle and threw it into the sea. The bottle drifted on the waves for a while, until someone found it and read the man’s note. It was an SOS for help. A search and rescue party was then dispatched.
The island is either a perceived place of loneliness, or an actual place of banishment. Often we feel as if God has deserted us when life hurts so badly that we cannot think, plan, dream, or hope anymore. As an example, the hurt of a broken marriage and of the heartbreak can be debilitating. When abandoned by the one you love, the hurt can be too much to bear. You feel like a castaway on a deserted island. I have experienced pain nothing like this before. It saps you of all your energy. On the island you feel alone with your pain. No one is there to help you overcome your loneliness and discouragement. You grieve with tears that no human sees or hears.
Have you forgotten that God sees and hears? He has searched you and knows you. He knows when you sit down and when you rise up. He knows your every thought and is acquainted with all your ways, even to the remotest parts of the sea.
Perhaps several weeks, months or a year has passed since you wrote your message in a bottle. You cry out once again “God, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me”.
As you look up into the night time sky, you can’t help but marvel at the infinite number of stars. How vast is the sum of them! If you should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
You’re drifting off to sleep now. You take wings and ascend into the heaven, searching for the Heart Mender, but tonight you cannot find Him, yet you know he is out there somewhere.
Upon waking, you rub your swollen eyes.
“I don’t believe what I saw,
A hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore
Seems I’m not alone in being alone
A hundred billion castaways looking for a home”
Loss of identity.
You have flares. Send one up. Maybe a passing ship will see you. You cry out “Rescue me O Lord!”
Many of you will relate to the character played by Tom Hanks (Chuck) in the movie Castaway, although metaphorically. He is a man marooned on an island after his plane crashes into the ocean during a violent storm. After crashing into the ocean, he is able to cling to his life-raft, loses consciousness, and floats all night before being washed up on a deserted island. He is tested mentally, physically, and emotionally in order to survive.
Similarly, I too have crashed, and have been tested, and wonder why it seemed that God had abandoned me, or why I must suffer. But, in retrospect, I have come to realize that it was during those times of loneliness, pain and suffering that I grew stronger in my faith and closer to God. I could either feel sorry for myself or treat what had happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep me from growing. I get to choose.
Four years later, Chuck is dramatically changed, wearing nothing but a loincloth, yet he has become adept at surviving. Then, one day, a large section from a portable toilet washes up on the island; Chuck uses it as a sail in the construction of a raft and sets sail from his island. After drifting for some time, a passing cargo ship finds him and rescues him.
Everything is different now for Chuck. His girlfriend is in a relationship with another man, and his company is being run differently now from when he ran it. Seems like life will always be full of obstacles, sorrows and brokenness. This is part and parcel with life. But some way, somehow, you find the courage to go on and find hope again.
Just so you know; the movie “Castaway” did end on an optimistic note. Chuck delivers a package to someone, a woman flirts with him, and this foreshadows a future past the ending of the film.
And it will also be for us that the Lord hears us when we call to him for help. He will rescue us from all our troubles. He is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed . There is peace and joy again in your future.
Whether your island is due to someone you loved having walked out on you for someone else, or a place of separation due to your own brokenness and sinfulness, take courage; take hope! God hears everyone that calls on Him for help. “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth … he hears their cries for help and rescues them”. And like the psalmist David, may God turn your wailing into dancing, that your heart may sing your praises to God again. Weeping is only for a short time, then rejoicing will come again.
Copyright 2016 by Bill Hutzel
 Psalm 70:1, New Living Translation
 Lyrics from song Message in a Bottle by The Police, 1979
 Psalm 34:17-18
 Psalm 145:18-19