On June 23, 2018, a junior soccer team and their coach entered the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand. Because of sudden, heavy rainfall, the cave flooded and the 12 boys—aged 11 to 16—and their 25-year-old coach became trapped inside.

Running Out of Time

Out in theatres in July and streaming on Amazon Prime Video in August, Thirteen Lives tells the true story of the rescue mission.

An international operation began with divers from around the world travelling to Thailand to help. But for nearly two weeks, heavy rains prevented the divers from locating the boys. Finally, on July 2, two British divers, John Volanthen (Colin Farrell) and Richard Stanton (Viggo Mortensen), found the group alive, perched on an elevated rock four kilometres from the mouth of the cave.

Divers delivered food and medicine to the boys while a rescue plan was formulated. It was decided that expert divers would train the boys to use diving masks so that they could breathe underwater while the divers escorted them out of the cave.

Then the worst happened: a Thai Navy diver drowned, highlighting the danger of this mission.

The experts came to the sobering realization that it might not be possible to bring all of the boys home. They worried that the diving masks might leak or the boys—unused to being underwater for such long periods of time—might panic. Either scenario could cause the deaths of both the boys and the divers.

Updates on the nightly news grew worse with each passing day. One report said the water the divers had to swim through was so muddy that it was like swimming in coffee, and they couldn’t see anything. Another quoted one of the divers as saying that he’d never dove in conditions that bad, even with only professional divers, let alone young children with no experience. The quality of the air in the cave decreased, making a successful rescue even less likely, and more rain was expected.

Would the divers be able to rescue the boys before time ran out?

Humble, Heartfelt Prayer

For 17 straight days in the summer of 2018, reporters told us that these divers were attempting something that couldn’t be done. But news reports rarely consider the divine. The truth is that God cares about what happens to us, and He is active in our lives. He can—and does—still make miracles happen.

More than 100 divers assisted in the Thai cave rescue. More than 10,000 other people—first responders, soldiers and government representatives—were also involved. But millions of people around the world played an important role, too. We watched the news reports and were moved to pray for the 12 boys and their coach.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” JAMES 5:16

We asked God to intervene on their behalf. We asked Him to protect them and the divers who were risking their own lives to save them. We might have even asked for peace for the boys’ parents while they waited for news.

All too often, watching the nightly news can make us feel hopeless. When that happens, we have two choices. We can feel angry, fearful or depressed about the state of the world—or we can ask God to change it. We might think that we can’t impact a situation on the other side of the world, but that’s not true. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Our prayers matter. Sometimes people think, “I couldn’t do anything to help, so I just prayed.” But praying is doing something. It’s asking the God of the universe for His help. God loves us and He wants us to bring our concerns to Him. Small miracles and even big ones often start the same way: with a humble, heartfelt prayer.

Diane Stark is a wife, mother of five and freelance writer from rural Indiana. She loves to write about the important things in life: her family and her faith.

Photos: Courtesy of United Artists Releasing/Amazon Studios

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