Posted by: Diana Leagh Matthews | April 15, 2012

Remembering Those that Perished At Sea

These were people living out their everyday life. In third class, most of the passengers were emigrants headed to the New World in hopes of a better life. In second class, we had what today would be considered the average, middle class person. First class was filled with the opulence of grandeur. The most elite and richest people were on this ship, such as John Jacob Astor and Isidor Strauss {founder of Macy’s}.

RMS Titanic

The Titanic was deemed “unsinkable.” After all it was the ship of dreams and no cost had been spared. She was larger and could go faster than any other ship in the world. {She was 1,004 tons larger than her sister ship, Olympic}. Life on the ship was unlike anything most of the passengers had ever seen before. They were living it up and relishing this once in a lifetime experience. White Star line chairman was heard to brag that the ship would arrive in New York ahead of schedule and they were going “full knots ahead.”

That Sunday they held services in the First and Second Class Lounges. That evening they held a hymn sing. One of the hymns they sung was “For Those That Perish At the Sea.”

Captain Edward J. Smith

A few short hours later the ship hit an iceberg and as we know, history was made. The ship did not have enough life boats, and Captain Smith and his crew had to make a decision who would be saved. From all accounts given, the men acted as gentlemen, assisting the women while realizing they were sealing their fate.

The loss of life is what makes this story so absolutely gut wrenching and connects with so many. This tragedy is a reminder that you never know when your time may come. We all know that one day we will face death, but expect it to be in old age. Tragedies occur that suddenly and immediately change the course of our lives and our destinies. If you approached the passengers at 11:30pm {10 minutes before the ship hit an iceberg} told the 1,517 people that lost their lives that night that they would not live to see morning they would not have believed you.

This tragedy is a reminder of how fragile life is. We never know when our name might be called, but we must be ready. Are you ready? 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

There were eight priest on board the Titanic {all Second Class Passengers} for her maiden voyage. Reports of at least three of these men {and probably all eight of them} tell of the way they assisted passengers, refused a place in the lifeboat, heard confessions and said prayers until the bitter end. Rev. John Harper {also a Second Class Passenger} is reported to go around to passengers first on the ship and later in the water {until the moment of his own death} begging and pleading with them to accept Christ into their hearts as he shared the gospel.

Matthew 25:13 tells us to “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” While Jesus was speaking of the second coming, the same is true for how fragile this life can be.
There are a multitude of stories about the sacrifices made on the Titanic. Ida Strauss decided to stay with her husband and Edith Evans gave up her place in a lifeboat to another woman that had children. These are just two of many, but they made life altering decisions when they were in the moment. The musicians stayed on the ship, playing their instruments to keep the crowds calm. As the Titanic sank that night, one of the last songs they played was “Nearer My God To Thee.” In the last moments of their lives, as the ship was tilting and the realization that the end was near they turned to God.

Titanic survivors in lifeboats awaiting rescue

Who would you turn to if you knew it was your last minutes? Would you share Christ with others in your last moments the way as these men of God made a decision to do? Take a moment of silence to remember those who perished on the Titanic. If Christ called you home {or returned} today would you be ready? {If not then please find a Bible believe church and speak with the pastor.}

For more on the songs, Nearer My God To Thee and “Autumn”

For more information, my blogs ALookThruTime and SingingtheSonginMyHeart are dedicated to the Titanic this month.

“Hearts That Survive” by Yvonne Lehman is one of the best fiction books I’ve read on the Titanic.

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