SOS: A Cry for Help with Everyday Problems

Johannes Vogel

SOS: From “Stressed” and “Off-Course” to the “Salvation of our Souls” through Christ. An evangelistic message of encouragement.

Three dots … three dashes … three dots. This is the SOS emergency signal, introduced 117 years ago at the International Radio Telegraphic Convention in Berlin. Radio technician and future head of the Ministry of Posts Hans Bredow took part in the conference, in which the intent was to make seafaring safer by establishing communications standards. Bredow said, “Every country must set up radio stations for shipping on its coasts.”

A standardized emergency signal was long overdue, because more and more calls for help just weren’t getting through. The reason was that there were different radio systems at the time. The Berlin conference on October 3, 1906 put an end to that and established an emergency signal (SOS) which, according to Hans Bredow, was easy to memorize.

Three short, three long, three short—SOS. 

But in the first years after its introduction, there were occasions when SOS emergency call signals went unheard. The Titanic in 1912, for example. The allegedly unsinkable luxury liner had sent an SOS, but the distress call hadn’t reached a number of ships very close to the scene of the accident. This was either because their radio was unstaffed at the time, or it was not using the same frequency. As a result, it was decided after the Titanic disaster that all ships with 50 or more passengers must be fitted with a radiotelegraph, which must be monitored at all times. When the SOS emergency call was introduced, its inventors’ top priority was for it to be an easily recognizable, Morse code signal that could be understood even through a poor radio connection. The precise combination of SOS met the conditions. Only later was the abbreviation given a meaning and name: SOS: “Save Our Souls.”

Wouldn’t that emergency call also be useful in our everyday lives?

We’re all aware of situations where we no longer know what to do, and there’s a risk of getting lost in our everyday worries. Hence the first point:

S Is for “Stressed”
Our stresses and worries can make our lives miserable. We worry ourselves sick, and then don’t know what to do anymore. Do you panic over a letter from the IRS in your mailbox, or rumors about job cuts at work? Do you feel stressed out, even when there isn’t a reason to be?

The 1988 song by Bobby McFerrin comes to mind: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!” The term “worry” comes from the old English word meaning “to strangle or throttle.” That’s what your worries do to your productivity and happiness—strangle them.

Worry is nothing more than a destructive waste of time. Stressing about something you can’t change is useless, and worrying about something you can change is just foolish! Because every time you indulge in those worrying thoughts, your stressful burden just grows heavier and heavier. This is one of the devil’s strategies and is why Jesus Christ makes such a clear statement to us: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matt 6:25).

Jesus was speaking to His followers. They were going to make a difference in their communities by believing in the caring Heavenly Father that Jesus proclaimed and taught about.

Who would they be different from? From all the people who were trusting in themselves, and who were making material or religious things their source of stability in life. In the next verse, Jesus elaborates in very practical terms for His listeners, and also for us today: 

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (v. 26).

Man is the only species in God’s creation that worries. However, our stresses can’t change the past or control the future—just make us miserable today! Jesus Christ also emphasizes in the same chapter: “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (v. 27).

God has clearly promised that He will provide for those who trust Him with the details of their lives. As your parents’ child, you didn’t ask where the money or food came from. You just accepted it (at least the food, if not the money!). It was your parents’ “problem,” wasn’t it? That’s why anyone who is consumed with worries and stress also loses their sense of direction.

And this is what I call the second aspect:

O Is for “Off-Course”
If we humans are experts in worrying ourselves sick, we’re also professionals at trying to help ourselves. A survey conducted in 2019 on people’s greatest worries and fears, shows that almost half of those surveyed are very afraid of poverty and social injustice. This is just one area of life where we’ve reached the limits of our human capabilities. Other examples are:

– the illness of a spouse, children, or parents
– climate change
– the rise in extremism and terrorism
– the breakup of close relationships, loneliness

I don’t know what worries and problems are causing you stress right now, occupying your thoughts, or even keeping you up at night. Full of restlessness, fear, and desperation, we’re looking for direction. Doctors, psychiatrists, psychics, gambling, self-help groups, drugs, meditation, yoga, and more are designed to relieve our worries. That’s the point behind them. And it can happen to every Christian too. “Faith ends where worry begins, and worry ends where faith begins” (George Mueller).

But true faith is counting on God’s possibilities and His intervention. That is why Psalm 118:8 teaches us, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”

After all, people can only support or guide us to a certain degree. You’ll quickly reach the point where you realize your soul’s distress call, from out of your deepest need, hasn’t actually been received. But who receives every transmission? God—Jesus Christ! In order to receive His help, you must first acknowledge Him as your Creator and Savior. Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “That means I’ll have to admit that I can’t handle things myself.” But rest assured, unless the leak of sin in your boat is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ, you will perish.

When you are eternally lost—the Bible calls this place hell—God can no longer help you. This eternally lost state begins the moment you close your eyes for the last time on this earth and your life here is over. Only Jesus Christ can open the way to God the Father in heaven and bring you there. A decision to have faith in Jesus Christ, consciously surrendering your life to Him, must happen during your lifetime. Whether you will accept Jesus as your Savior here on earth, or only encounter Him as your Judge in eternity, is a very personal decision. So, before it’s too late (like on the Titanic), send your SOS to God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ today. 

Okay, so how is that supposed to work? I’ll explain in point 3:

S Is for “Salvation of Our Souls”
The Bible is full of wonderful truths. From the first page to the last, it is the Word of God: His—God’s—very personal message to you and me. But its message is pretty blunt. We read of the first people, who catapulted themselves into a very unfortunate situation. Adam and Eve departed from God’s truth and went their own way. We could describe this as falling into sin. The origin of the word “sin” means missing the target. That’s precisely what happened in the Garden of Eden.

They fell short of the goal that God had given them. Through the Fall of Man in Genesis, detachment from God (and by extension, sorrow) came into the world. Since then, our souls have needed salvation—reconciliation with God.

The Bible puts it this way: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).

Turn this world’s SOS into a personal SMS (“Save My Soul”). That’s how you can make your personal emergency call to God: “Save my soul.”

You can do it using “Morse code” from Psalm 50:15: “and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” This internationally standardized emergency call works 24/7/365.

God hears every transmission, because He’s always on the receiving end.

You can be absolutely certain that God will save you. He’s stretching out His hand to you through His Son Jesus Christ! He laid down His life and shed His blood on the Cross at Calvary for your transgressions and mine—our sin. He gave His life so we could have eternal life with God. God’s salvation is for eternity, but He’s already providing help in your everyday life. As a result, your life gains a very practical, different perspective. If you’ve made the decision to enlist God’s help in your life, then honor Him by making yourself completely available to Him.

The call for your and my everyday life is therefore SOS, but meaning “Save Our Souls” instead of “Stressed, Off-Course Soul.” 

The salvation of your soul and mine is dear to the heart of God the Creator. He wants to reconnect with you. So, call on Him and send a signal from your heart—SOS—and make a personal SMS out of it—“Save my soul!”

Midnight Call - 03/2023

ContactAbout UsPrivacy and Safety