The Top 10 Most Amazing Survival Stories of All Time!
July’s edition of Popular Mechanics-2019 highlights the top 10 most amazing survival stories of all time!
The stories are not listed in any particular order. I imagine it would be hard to rank the stories since they all include an amazing and unique to itself element of survival — from self-amputation, three days under a capsized boat, an automobile careening down a 200 foot cliff, being adrift for 76 days at sea, 28 men surviving under the leadership of Shackleton, or the more recent one involving the Thai soccer team trapped in a cave.
The value of our various posts titled — “Today’s Illustration” — is that they provide far more than a fairly contemporary “story” which can be used in a message, but they provide helps in “generating ideas” and useful approaches to using them. 
Three Ways To Use It
In using one or more of the stories of survival in a speech or message, there are at least three ways to approach it.
#1) Using The Thematic Word: Many generally introduce the theme of the message using one or more examples of survival (in this case). This is the simplest and most common approach.
In this case, it would be the thematic word would be “survival.” The article sets up that word. It is obvious per the article’s headline.
The speaker or preacher would typically begin or introduce the message using that word or theme.
Have you read or listened to one of those great stories of human survival. Remember the Tai soccer team which was trapped in “The flood filled the twisted cave system with water, trapping the boys for 17 days. For the first nine days, they had no food, and relied on dripping stalactites for water.”
The historic example from 1914 — the Shackleton Expedition . . . .
In the introduction, the singular thematic word – “survival” – is highlighted, followed by the transition which introduces the message . . . .
One of the great biblical examples of survival, against all odds, has to be “David & Goliath!”
[or Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego / The Crossing of the Red Sea / Jericho / Paul’s shipwreck / Paul period! / Joseph]
The purpose is merely to segway into the passage . . . .
“We are going to look at a biblical example of survival . . . .”
and/or into the general idea which will frame all the points and content of the message.
I. Survival Will Require Patience
II. Survival Will Require Principle
III. Survival Will Require A Perspective
. . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . .
#2) Using A Key Statement: You can go a step further and develop a key or Big Idea.
A key statement is found in the story of the Tai soccer team — “But they didn’t sit and wait.” As soon as I read that statement, my mind was caught by the usefulness of such a phrase.
Now you can use an actual statement found in the article, or you can originate a statement.
Using The Key Statement:
The article published on this amazing survival story says this . . . .
“After soccer practice in June 2018, 12 members of a Thai soccer team and their coach decided to explore the nearby Tham Luang cave, one of Thailand’s longest cave.
The boys, aged 11-16 and their coach, 25, waded into the waters and began exploring the cave. When a flash flood came, they pushed deeper in, eventually making their way to an elevated platform, 4 kilometers into the cave system. The flood filled the twisted cave system with water, trapping the boys for 17 days. For the first nine days, they had no food, and relied on dripping stalactites for water.”
Now listen to what is said — “But they didn’t sit and wait.” Did those words grab you as they did me — “They did not sit and wait.” That is what can make all the difference when it comes to spiritual survival.
You can see that in II Kings 7:3 — “And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die?” . . . . .
You can go two different ways with the statement — “They didn’t just sit and wait.”
#1) Sometimes, God expects you to act and not just sit and wait. . . .
#2) You are going to have to sit and wait — because it will take the Lord to rescue you out of this. Stop digging!
Originating A Key Statement:
Do you know what is true in all — most all — in both “this” and again in “that” account? Both of them identify multiple key events which had to happen for the story to end in “survival.” The stories relate an event and/or a series of events, which had not one or two of them occurred, the story would have ended far differently. It would have ended in a tragedy, not survival.
In this case, the article never states that point, but it is there — embedded in the various examples. There may be others as well.
We call that God’s providential working in the events of our lives. Some use the word “luck.” But it is not. It is God’s providencial ordering of small events which changed the whole story.
That is the story of Esther & Mordecai . . . . . . And that is your story if you look back and take notice of what had to happen for this-or-that to occur!
. . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . .
#3) Building A Sermonic Analogy:
You can also go with one of the stories of survival1 and develop it into a useful analogy. That is what Tony Evans does so effectively.
You can use it for an introduction, conclusions, as an illustration, or to drive home one of the points.
In this case, I would have taken the idea of survival, the particular example of the Thai soccer team, and then do a little more research and reading about that event.
To build the analogy from this particular survival story, I may need more information. I will not use it all, but I probably need more than provided in these brief examples of survival.
In this case, for simplicity sake, I will just use the story as it is provided.
Key Analogy Words & Phrases: I am looking for what keywords and phrases which I can swing from (A) to (B) — from the known to the unknown.
flash flood came
trapping them / trapped
didn’t sit and wait
surviving half the battle
a Seal died
Let me close with an amazing story of survival . . . .
[ or. . . Let me illustrate that point with an amazing story of survival . . . .]
It involves the rescue of that Thai soccer team which took place just last year.
The coach decided that he would take his team on an exploration of a cave after practice.
What he didn’t know was that a flash flood would flood the entrance of that cave, and they would be required to push deeper and deeper into that cave to avoid the water.
Finally, it trapped them in that cave. But they didn’t just sit and hope that help might come, they began trying to find a way out. They dug a 16-foot hole in the wall of the cave — but to no avail.
After nine days of no food and depleted energy, Navy Seals arrived and over a three day period they were brought out, one-by-one. Amazingly to the astonishment of people from around the world, they all survived.
Unfortunately, one of the Thai Navy Seals died.
You will discover that in our Christian lives, there will be those who want to bring you on what looks like a simple exploration.
Innocent enough as you walked into the cave — you were just exploring!
But everything begins to change when a flash-flood hits and pushes you deeper and deeper into it — and ultimately trapping you. Sometimes the flash flood is “pregnancy” – “a financial predicament” – “the loss of a job” — and you begin moving deeper and deeper, hoping to survive and be able to walk out of it.
You will begin to realize that you are TRAPPED and time is running out! And honestly, your energy is also. It may well exhaust you!
You may even try to dig your way out, but there really is no way out.
It will take a rescue attempt — not by Navy Seals, but by a parent – a friend – a pastor – a sibling.
And can I say, that at times, it may cost the “well-being” of the one or ones trying to rescue you!
Additional Information & Links:
1. Or you can use several of the examples of survival, and highlight the elements which they have in common.
The Thai Soccer Team Story of Survival, by Popular Mechanics:
After soccer practice in June 2018, 12 members of a Thai soccer team and their coach decided to explore the nearby Tham Luang cave, one of Thailand’s longest cave.
The boys, aged 11-16 and their coach, 25, waded into the waters and began exploring the cave. When a flash flood came, they pushed deeper in, eventually making their way to an elevated platform, 4 kilometers into the cave system. The flood filled the twisted cave system with water, trapping the boys for 17 days. For the first nine days, they had no food, and relied on dripping stalactites for water. But they didn’t sit and wait.
Realizing they were trapped, the boys took turns digging a 16-foot hole into the cave wall hoping to find a way out. They meditated to save energy and avoid thinking about food. Then British divers who had set out from the cave’s entrance three hours prior happened upon the boys.
Surviving that long was only half the battle though. Thai Seals entered the cave to help and hang with the boys as rescuers planned how to extricate them safely. Over the course of a three-day mission, divers retrieved each player and their coach.
The arduous journey to the surface required each boy to wear a full-face diving mask, be tethered between two divers, and swim for hours through turns and exceedingly tight squeezes. Thanks to the efforts of Thai Navy Seals and the international dive community, all survived and were able to quickly return to a normal, healthy, life after the rescue.
Tragically, one former Thai Navy Seal died in the rescue effort.
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