Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me. — Psalm 69:1–2
On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 made an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River after a flock of birds flew into the plane’s engines, causing both engines to fail. The landing, in which not a single life was lost, became known as “The Miracle on the Hudson.”
Yet, as smooth as the emergency landing seemed from the front of the plane, a more terrifying story was unfolding in the back of the plane which bore the brunt of the impact. The violent impact tore a hole through the bottom of the rear of the plane, allowing water to seep in. Flight attendant Doreen Welsh, the only crew member at the back of the plane, described how the situation went from bad to worse. After realizing that they had crashed into water and not on a runway, Doreen recognized that water was quickly seeping in and that the people around her were in shock, unable to move and disembark the quickly sinking plane.
Doreen describes how the ice cold water went from waist-high and then all the way to her neck. At that point she fully believed that her life was about to end. She had no way of knowing that the front of the plane was free of water and that hope lie ahead. Then suddenly, as passengers did move forward, Doreen realized that she might live after all, and indeed she did.
I think that what Doreen Welsh went through on a physical level, many of us experience on a spiritual, mental, or emotional level. As David wrote in Psalm 69, “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.”
Sometimes, life can be so overwhelming that we literally feel as though we are sinking. The situation seems impossible and it feels as though in just a few more moments we will be in over our heads, never to emerge again. But Psalm 69 reminds us that no matter how hopeless the situation may seem, there is always hope for salvation.
At the beginning of the psalm, David prayed that God would save him from the waters that threatened to engulf him. By the end of the psalm, David was certain that God would save him. We read in verse 30, “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.”
Remember, when you feel like you’ve been treading water for way too long, or that the water is up to your neck threatening to engulf you, miracles do happen. Hold on and hold out for God. Never give up on His salvation.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President