One day in Armenia in 1988, Samuel and Danielle sent their young son, Armand, off to school. Samuel squatted before his son and looked him in the eye. “Have a good day at school, and remember, no matter what, I’ll always be there for you.” He hugged his young son, and the boy ran off to school.
Hours later, a powerful earthquake rocked the area. Buildings crumbled; electrical power went out everywhere; people panicked. In the midst of the pandemonium, Samuel and Danielle tried to discover what happened to their son. As the day wore on, the radio announced that casualty estimates were in the thousands. People were trapped under beams and rubble in flattened buildings—even schools were destroyed.
Kissing his wife, Samuel grabbed his coat and headed for the school yard. When he reached the area, what he saw brought tears to his eyes. Armand’s school was a pile of debris. Other grief-stricken parents stood nearby, weeping.
Samuel found the place where Armand’s classroom used to be and began pulling a broken beam off the pile of rubble. He picked up a rock and put it to the side, then another, and another.
One of the parents looking on asked, “What are you doing?”
“Digging for my son,” Samuel answered.
The man exclaimed, “You’re just going to make things worse! This building is unstable,” and tried to pull Samuel away from his work.
Samuel just asked, “Are you going to help me?”
The man’s wife shook her head sadly, “They’re dead. It’s no use.”
Samuel set his jaw and continued digging. As time wore on, one by one, the other parents left. Concerned, a firefighter tried to pull Samuel away from the rubble. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“Digging for my son,” was the reply.
“Fires are breaking out. You’re in danger. We’ll take care of it.”
“Will you help me?” Samuel asked without stopping his work.
The firefighter instead hurried off to a more pressing emergency, leaving Samuel still digging.
All through the night and into the next day, Samuel continued digging, his hole growing larger. Parents placed flowers and pictures of their children on the ruins. Soon, a row of photos of young, happy faces smiled up from the rubble. But Samuel just squared his shoulders and snatched up a beam. Wedging it under a stubborn boulder, he tried to pry it out of the way. Finally, the boulder gave.
A faint “Help!” came from under the rubble. Samuel stopped his work and listened. He could hear nothing. He kept digging.
The faint voice came again. “Papa?”
Samuel recognized the voice! “Armand!” He began to dig furiously. Finally, he could see his young son. “Come out, son!” he said with relief.
“No,” Armand said. “Let the other kids out first, ’cause I know you’ll get me.”
Child after child emerged until, finally, a sputtering Armand appeared. Samuel took him in his arms.
“I told the other kids not to worry,” Armand said confidently. “I told them that if you were alive, you’d save me and when you saved me, they’d be saved. You promised you’d always be there for me.”
Fourteen children were saved that day because one father was faithful.*
How much more faithful is our heavenly Father! Whether trapped by fallen debris in an earthquake or trapped by life’s hardships and struggles, we are never cut off from His love for us. As Jeremiah writes, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22,23, NIV).
By Bill Bright
©2023 Copyright Bright Media Foundation
* Jack Canfield (ed.), Mark Victor Hansen, Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit (Health Communications, 1995), 273,274.