When divers combed the wreckage of the Kursk (the destroyed Russian nuclear submarine on which 118 sailors perished), they found a letter written by Lt. Dmitri Kolesnikov. The handwritten note was addressed to his wife, Olga. It was penned after the explosion that sealed the sub’s doom on August 12, 2000, in the Barents Sea and confirmed speculation that all the crew had not died instantly.
A few hours after the submarine plunged to the bottom of the sea, Kolesnikov wrote, “All the crew from the sixth, seventh, and eighth compartments went over to the ninth. There are 23 people here. . . . None of us can get to the surface.”
The note included a deeply personal expression of affection to his beloved Olga, who admitted that her husband had a premonition of death when he bade her goodbye before sailing out to the Barents Sea. Eerily, the last lines of the letter indicated that death was closing in. The auxiliary power had failed. Kolesnikov wrote unevenly in the pitch darkness: “I am writing blind.”
What a terrible sense of approaching doom. This sailor’s despair and foreboding isn’t all that different from what many people feel about this world.
The apostle Paul, blind and knowing that a martyr’s death was near, also wrote goodbye letters. His letters, though, were filled with hope in Christ.