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South Pole

February 22, 2015

Dome at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station (first permanent human structure at the South Pole), Photo by Bill McAfee for National Science Foundation, Source (PD).

We take for granted today that man has conquered nature. After all, we have flown to the moon, plumbed the deepest oceans. But this was not always so. There was a time when exploration required great daring and great sacrifice; when notoriety could not be confused with accomplishment.

In their race to the South Pole, Captain Robert Scott, Dr. Edward Wilson, and Henry Bowers braved temperatures of 43 degrees below zero. All three lost their lives in the attempt.

Ultimately, the team was defeated by the weather. Their meteorologist, George Simpson had been unable to predict the unusually severe conditions. Simpson went to his grave uncertain whether he might have saved them.

Only with the advantage of more advanced equipment can we demonstrate the remarkable accuracy of Simpson’s projections. In fifteen of sixteen years, the team would easily have survived.

Only now do we realize that Wilson and Bowers gave their lives for Scott. Neither man recorded that fact, in the letters they left buried for loved ones. It was simply their final act of devotion to an injured leader, a far greater accolade than headlines, ticker tape, or applause.

How often – like Simpson – do we view our own efforts as failures, without any real comprehension of their impact? God’s perspective is not as limited as our own. Nor is His power. He can use even our failures to His purposes…purposes greater than we can know.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8: 28).

Lord God, You are present equally on the frozen waste, and the freezing street corner. You know our beginnings and endings, all that we will and will not accomplish.

Our days here are so short, Lord. Use us to Your purposes. Even when our circumstances are dire; even when we fail in what we intend.

For even when we fail, Your glory remains.



  1. This is so very beautiful. Deeply moving. Sometimes the verse from Romans 8 is hard to comprehend. How can this situation turn out for good? Cancer? How? Still, we can learn and grow in spite of our circumstances, and sometimes because of them.

    • Thank you, Nicodemas. I felt the same way about the Scott story when I learned the details. The lesson of good from evil is a difficult one. It sometimes requires an act of will to trust in the Lord. So it has been for me, at any rate. But the better we know God’s character, the more we are willing to trust Him. The child receiving a vaccine may not know why the injection is necessary. Yet she will be comforted in her father’s arms.

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