Thoughts on Lent 5: Where is FLT MH360?

By Wendy Murray

In general, the initial shock of hearing a jumbo jet went down in the ocean quickly transitions to the benumbed interlude of grief watching the mournful recovery of seats, suitcases, and  severed ailerons. In any case, the laws of physics have been obeyed. From that vantage point, the world still spins on its course.

This is the third day in the aftermath of that initial shock of hearing a jumbo jet disappeared, Malaysia Airlines MH370. Sometime between one and two hours after it took off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia bound for Beijing, China, at a cruise altitude of 34,000 the radar went blank. One second the flight was there, the next second it was gone. Initial speculations abounded, predictably. The plane had made an emergency landing; the plane had been hijacked; terrorists did something so catastrophic the pilots had no chance to place a distress call.

As time as gone on, those scenarios begin to feel consoling. Why? Because neither the logic nor the physics are adding up. If the plane blew up, where is the debris? Surely one portion of one floating seat cushion would have washed up by now. If the plane malfunctioned, the experienced pilot would have signaled distress in some way. The radar would have registered it somehow. And what about satellite imagery? In the age of ubiquitous NSA spying, how can it happen that a Boeing 777 disappears without a trace? Let us not forget that the 239 passengers and crew were probably carrying Smartphones. If something was going terribly wrong, wouldn’t one of them made an attempt to reach a loved one on the ground?

None of these laws of planes crashes have applied (yet). There was no distress signal, no last-minute calls to loved ones, no witnesses, no sounds, and most troubling of all now that the search is one day-3: no debris.

Someone tweeted: “Where r u?” That question has united the planet.

Search teams from Malaysia, Singapore, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia and the United States (including the FBI) — some sending warships and offering submarines — have been mobilized. During the most recent press conference held by the director general of the Department of Civil Aviation in Malaysia said, “There is still no sign of the aircraft.”

The Twitter-sphere captures it best:

Why not wish for it? We are in that foreign netherworld of “anything can happen.” 

The search continues. The world waits, languishing for the relief of floating wreckage. What will become of us if the rules of air catastrophes collapse? Warships and submarines and the exercises from multiple nations can not save us.

We are in God’s realm then. It is both terrifying and consoling.

The standard heartbreaking script of air crashes may yet play out when it comes to the mysterious case of MH370. Assuming it does and we find wreckage, we can all go back to the consolation that we understand the way the world works.

Until it does, consider the hopefulness of this interlude: a world finds itself in unity looking to God, who is the last hope and who is in control.

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About Wendy Murray

Wendy Murray is a veteran and award-winning journalist. She served as associate editor and Senior Writer at Christianity Today magazine and has written extensively for other publications such as Books & Culture and The Christian Century. She has written 11 books.

  • http://leelusplace.blogspot.com/ leelu

    Finding physical evidence in open water takes time, especially if the plane was shattered in flight by one or more explosions. For comparison, remember the Air France flight that fell into the mid-Atlantic and how long it took to find it.

    Me, I’m praying for alien abduction. Weak joke not withstanding, I saw on a WSJ feed that some wreckage had been spotted north east of where the plane was last know to be. Added complication – the search is *not* in international waters, so there are territorial issues to be resolved.
    Prayer and patience.

    • Wendy Murray

      Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Last I read on the possible wreckage — it could not be confirmed (it is the middle of the night there). Like I said, we are all hoping now for consolation of finding wreckage. Think about that.

  • Vince

    With all of the searching one would think that this plane would have been located by now. The electronics on board should still be sending electronic signals out that could be picked by sophisticated instrumentation using today’s advanced technologies. If the plane went down in the water there would be some type of signs floating on the surface.

    There have been reports of missing aircraft over the years that have never been found, most were in what we call the Bermuda Triangle. If this aircraft is never found we will be asking ourselves; what forces were at play in this incident?

    With all the turmoil on earth today could it be a sign to make people stop and think that we are in a self destruct mode and something or someone from a higher power is sending a special warning to the world. Are the passengers now in a safer place? Only time will tell, but how much time?

    • Wendy Murray

      Hence, the mystery. This is why people are generally flummoxed. What could possibly explain it within the purview of current contingencies? Thanks for reading, and for commenting.

      • Pat68

        I guess it’s times like this that helps to keep us grounded versus thinking that the world is completely manageable, which with all our technological advances, is tempting thinking to fall into.


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