Patti Richter, On Faith: Righting a Ship or a Nation

ROCKWALL, TX (June 28, 2022) – Twenty years ago, the USS Spiegel Grove went down near Key Largo, Florida. But the locals happily observe the anniversary since the sinking was intentional. The state had received title to the retired Navy ship hoping it could become a haven for marine life.

The sunken ship, just six miles off the coast at a depth of 130 feet, brings tourists and divers to the area. More than 100 species of fish also visit the former ship that serves as an artificial reef—covered in sponges and coral.

But repurposing the 510-foot vessel wasn’t cheap or easy. Workers cut holes through thick steel and removed sharp objects to ensure safety for divers. Then came the greater challenge of correctly sending it to the bottom of the sea. That’s when things went wrong.

Ready and waiting to be sunk in 2002, the ship took on water too soon and sank prematurely. It rolled upside-down and settled on the sandy seabed with the bow still above water. Weeks later, a special team arrived with tugboats, pumps, and airbags to sink the ship completely, and it came to rest on its starboard side, in a better position.

A greater intervention came three years later under the name of Hurricane Dennis. The powerful underwater currents generated by the storm winds turned the ship upright—to its intended position.

We like dramatic resolutions and good endings like that one, but they happen mostly in novels and super-hero movies, not so much in the nightly news. The real world is weighty with sin and sorrows, and, in the new millennium alone, our own nation has experienced enough conflict to alarm the most optimistic among us. We’ve gone from the terrorism of 9-11 to home-grown violence at the hands of troubled and angry citizens.

Besides our country’s self-inflicted wounds, we face actual storms and fires that sweep across our land with the prevailing west winds, leaving communities void of homes and livelihoods. From other directions come threats we cannot outrun—viruses with names that change from one season to the next. And even if we feel safe from all of these, we may still fear those foreign despots who seek world domination through nuclear weapons.

All the king’s men and women try hard to keep our nation on an even keel, and much of their work is commendable. But it’s hard to right a huge ship with only airbags, pumps, and tugboats. It’s even harder when so many hands are involved and they’re pulling the ropes in different directions. It seems increasingly obvious that only a mighty hand can restore our land to peace and prosperity.

Isaiah 26:9* says, “When [God’s] judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” It’s interesting that the Lord’s judgments upon nations are often called tempests.

The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth. . . before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: . . . “the world and its fullness are mine. . . call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:1, 3, 4, 12, 15).

God desires that all nations would right themselves. But since we cannot accomplish this on our own, he may be shaking the earth that its inhabitants might turn to Christ—our righteousness.

The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. –1 John 4:14

*English Standard Version


By Patti Richter. Patti writes and edits Christian faith articles and has co-authored Signs of His Presence: Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering (March 2019). Read more of her essays at

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