Between 1960 and 1970 most of the world focused on the race to the moon. During this time, construction of the Aswan High Dam across the Nile River also occurred.
Provision vs Loss
As a joint effort between Egypt and the Soviet Union, the USSR provided the funding and technical expertise while Egypt provided the massive labor force. The positive outcome of the massive dam included a tremendous source of hydroelectric power. This became so lucrative that the dam paid for itself in only two years.
The dam provides water irrigation as another major provision, at the time allowing Egypt to reclaim 840,000 hectares of fertile land in the Nile Delta alone. The dam also protects Egypt from periodic droughts and floods.
However, one of the immediate drawbacks of the Aswan High Dam was that, by creating Lake Nassar, it flooded the homes of 100,000 people. The Egyptian government had to relocate them all.
Lake Nassar also threatened to submerge 22 of the most priceless ancient monuments and architectural complexes of ancient Egypt producing a great concern to the world of academia and archaeology. These included the 3,300-year-old colossal statues of Rameses II and the Great Temple of Abu Simbel. What could be done to save them?
With the help and financial backing of UNESCO and numerous museums around the world, all 22 of these monuments, temples, and complexes reached safety. How? Using a large labor force and many hand-tools, workers sawed many of the statues and monuments into pieces. Then, they cataloged them, floated them away to safer locations and reassembled them.
For instance, both the Great Temple of Rameses II and the Small Temple of Queen Nefertari received movement in piecemeal to a higher location, above the future shoreline of Lake Nassar. There the mighty monuments were assembled like huge puzzles. Other major archaeological treasures reached safe havens of the very museums which helped rescue them from flooding.
This was not only a “monumental” effort. It was a chaotic and traumatic period for the archaeological world. Historians and archaeologists world-wide held their breath as they witnessed the fragmentation of such irreplaceable buildings and statues—cut into pieces, stored in crates, and then transported away. But in the end, all the monuments reached safety and both Egypt and the world received enrichment.
Obedience in Chaos
I thought about this recently as my wife and I have endured the fragmenting of our own family. We recently moved from the State of Washington to southern Missouri to help out with a ministry there. We knew in our hearts it was God’s will for us. But we also witnessed the doors closing in Washington and another opening in Missouri. Yet we hoped that our daughter, son-in-law, and all four of our grandchildren would be able to join us.
But things have not yet unfolded as we had prayed and hoped. The biological father of our two oldest grandchildren sued my daughter for primary custody with the help of a superb legal team. By artfully using the chaotic conditions created by our move, his attorneys convinced the judge that his children would be better off with him and his new wife.
This was heartbreaking for us but absolutely heart-rending for my daughter. At the present time, we’re all in a bit of shock. But we trust in God that He will answer our prayers, reward our faithfulness, and reunite us all again as a family.
Hope in Chaos
Maybe you’ve been watching the priceless treasures of your own life cut into pieces and removed to the four winds. Maybe you’re in anguish and feeling powerless to avert what seems to be your worst nightmare. But do not despair for the story is not finished. God has not abandoned you and He frequently turns what seems to be a disaster into triumph (Rom. 8:31–39).
Begin by looking at the tragedy of Jesus’ wrongful condemnation and crucifixion. God turned that “disaster” into His greatest act of redemption—achieving eternal salvation for billions who believe in Jesus (Rom. 3:24–26; 5:6–10; Col. 2:9–15). Consider also the series of tragedies and disappointments that befell Joseph in Egypt. Fragmentation high-lighted Joseph and Jacob’s life.
Yet, God reassembled every single missing piece of their lives (Gen. 37–50). In the end Joseph could forgive those who had hurt him so deeply and say to them, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good, to bring about the salvation of many people” (Gen. 50:20). God is continually working behind the scenes to turn our night into day and to deliver us from all our fears (Ps. 34:4).
In the meantime, take comfort that “God is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). In Isaiah 57:15, we read, “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite’”.
Dear Lord Jesus, You who are the “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” into Your loving embrace I fall and pray that You will love me freely, bind up my broken heart, and restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Into Your loving and capable hands I entrust myself, those I love, and all that concerns me. Amen.