Distress Signals We Send and See

©Joy Dunlap  https://joydunlap.com

The SOS by three mariners stuck on a tiny island caught the attention of a US Air Force pilot and crew searching for the lost boaters. This recent good news story about a successful search and rescue brought smiles to people around the world.

We all want to believe that if we’re lost, someone will find us, reach out to us, help us.

And, we desire – we need – stories with happy endings.

God sees the distress signal we send.  He hears our call. He is The First Responder.  But he also wants us to be attuned to the calls of others.

At times, we may feel lost, stranded or even wrecked.  Others feel that way too.

If we’re not the one issuing an SOS call at this time, someone around us surely is. 

Even a sandy beach, a beautiful island with 24/7 ocean views and sunshine may at first glance look idyllic until a closer look reveals someone in distress.

In this case, the missing men veered off course in their boat and ran out of fuel, landing on an uninhabited island that’s part of Micronesia.

Veer off course.  Run out of fuel.

It can happen to any of us in life – mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

Those stranded hoped someone above would see their distress signal.  Their trust did not go unredeemed.

A USAF KC-135 plane spotted their SOS.

When we call out an SOS to God, He recognizes it.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”  Psalm 91:14-16 NIV

We start off on course, yet circumstances – perhaps a storm or strong winds or a damaged vessel – may push us in a direction far from where we should be. Isolated from friends and family, others may not easily recognize the condition we’re in.  Sending up an SOS to ask others to pray with us, listen to us or support us is not a sign of weakness. Not doing so can be prideful. Yet, it may be we’ve reached a place where our desolation is greater than the desire.

We owe it to one another to remain ever alert on “Search and Rescue.”  Let’s remind ourselves of some tactics:


Keep a watchful eye out for those experiencing difficulties. Listen intently to what others say or do for clues about how they feel.  Ask God to open our eyes so we will see the pain, the loneliness, or the distress in others.

U.S. Coast Guard members dropped a phone to the mariners on the island to establish communication. Their action made it clear that the rescuers knew their situation and would stay in touch.    


Establish and maintain connection.  Call or send a card, text or email. Sometimes letting someone know they are seen, heard and valued tethers them.  Remind them God loves them and you care.  Make sure they know communication remains open and you’re available.

An Australian helicopter from a nearby ship landed on the island with food and water for the men who’d been missing.  They met the immediate needs of those stranded before they were rescued. 


“Meet” them where they are in need – not where they were or want to be. Listen to how they’re hurting and struggling.  Find ways to provide aid or find a professional to help.

Spiritual food refuels and refreshes our souls.  Pray for and with those who are in despair, feeling abandoned or weakened.  Share (and pray) Scripture passages.


Our ultimate life-extending “rescue” begins and ends with God and the mercy and grace found through Jesus, but our team effort supports search and rescue while we’re on earth. God doesn’t need our help, but He knows we’ll be blessed by helping others, and in the process, He grows us.

God is the primary rescuer we can trust – the SOS responder we can count on!

Are we on the Search and Rescue Team for each other, or do we need to send up a signal ourselves?

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:13-14

But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  2 Timothy 4:17-18 NIV

  • When was a time you had to be rescued?  Or came to the rescue of another?
  • What was the last time you felt off course, out of fuel, or in distress?  What caused that and how did you get back on track? 
  • Who might need an encouraging response from you today?  Keep watch for an SOS from someone around you.   

If you’re feeling discouraged, marooned or adrift, please call out to God, and reach out to me or someone right now.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46: 1-3 NIV


Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™


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