Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. –Psalm 23:4
In Daniel 3, the Bible tells us how Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, had three Jews thrown into “a burning fiery furnace” for refusing to bow to his idol. Miraculously, those three men–Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego–survived unscathed. And the king, astounded, said, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (v. 25)
Fast-forward into the 20th century.
As Europe was tuning up for World War I, explorer Ernest Shackleton set out on an expedition to cross Antarctica by land. But his ship was crushed in the ice, and he and his men made a narrow escape to a desert island. There they would be sure to die, unless they were rescued.
After many hardships and extreme peril on the sea, Shackleton and two companions arrived on South Georgia Island, where they then had to hike over mountains and glaciers in hope of reaching the whaling station on the other side of the island, from whence word could be sent to summon rescuers. It was a grim and difficult march, literally a race against death.
Now let Shackleton himself tell us what happened during that march, excerpted from his book, South.
“When I look back at those days I have no doubt that Providence guided us, not only across those snow-fields, but across the storm-white sea that separated Elephant Island from our landing-place on South Georgia. I know that during that long and racking march of 36 hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia it seemed to me often that we were four, not three. I said nothing to my companions on the point, but afterwards Worsley said to me, ‘Boss, I had a curious feeling on the march that there was another person with us.’ Crean confessed to the same idea. One feels ‘the dearth of human words, the roughness of mortal speech’ in trying to describe things intangible, but a record of our journeys would be incomplete without a reference to a subject very near to our hearts.”
For two persons, let alone three, to have the same hallucination at the same time is exceedingly unlikely, and may not even be possible. So I believe this story, even as I believe the Biblical account of the miracle in Babylon.
It is not recorded that anyone was fool enough to call Shackleton a liar to his face.