On 24 March 2015, Andreas Lubitz took control of Germanwings Flight 9525 and crashed the Airbus A320 into the side of a mountain in French Alps. 124 passengers and 6 crew members perished. Investigations into this catastrophe revealed that Lubitz, a co-pilot on the flight, had a history of severe depression and suicidal tendencies, characteristics that might have kept him out of the cockpit. So why didn’t they? We may never know the full story, but it seems to have been a combination of privacy laws and inattention from the industry, as well as a certain level of secrecy from the pilot himself.
This tragic event causes me to wonder how many children of God are carrying with them secrets of deep spiritual struggle that few, if any, know about. How many fellow-Christians sit in the same worship assembly with me week after week unsuccessfully battling weaknesses, temptations, and sins because they need help but don’t feel comfortable reaching out for it? How many are on a flight path to spiritual death because of secrecy and/or inattention?
What’s more, what can be done about it? May I offer two suggestions?
We need to be more open with each other.
James wrote of confessing our sins to each other and praying for each other that we might find healing (James 5:16). How many of us really confess our sins to others? I understand that this practice has been abused in the past and that not every private transgression needs to be brought publicly before the church. But could we not find a Christian in whom we have the highest confidence and trust to whom we could open up about our personal struggles, weaknesses, and sins? Could we not benefit from that person’s sympathetic ear and diligent prayers? Many of our relationships in the body of Christ are far too superficial and we are hurting as a result.
We need to be more proactive in our encouragement of each other.
Our periods of worship and Bible study on Sundays and Wednesdays are wonderful opportunities not only to express our praise to God and deepen our knowledge of him, but they offer unique occasions to inspire and encourage each other to deeper faith. But are those two times each week enough? Hebrews 3:13 reads, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” There is an urgency in those words. The original recipients of Hebrews were struggling to stay faithful to their commitment to Jesus. They were in desperate need of the ability to persevere through those hard times (Heb. 10:36). The remedy offered by the inspired writer included daily encouragement. Are we daily encouragers of others? With so many means of easy communication at our disposal (email, phones, social media), could we not be more encouraging to each other?
Each individual soul is more valuable than the entire accumulated wealth of the world (Mark 8:36-37). Does my level of concern for myself and others day after day show that I really believe that? Or am I too consumed with lesser things? Perhaps being more diligent to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24) could “save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).