I’m so pleased to share with you the following story from guest-blogger Kristen Hogrefe. I’ve done a lot of traveling lately, and I can certainly relate to her message! Be sure to check out Kristen’s site for more faith-filled encouragement.
In my recent travel adventures, I noticed the flight crew now refers to “turbulence” as “rough air.” I’m not sure why. “Rough air” sounds no less pleasant. Regardless of how we spin it, turbulence remains a reality for air travel and, honestly, for life in general.
Sometimes, we don’t even have to be in the air to experience it. My last travel experience involved being grounded in a plane for two hours before the airline allowed us to disembark (due to weather).
As I waited in the crowded plane, just ready to be home, I felt a rising frustration at my helplessness. I closed my eyes and tried to pray, but my emotions were less than Psalm 23 worthy.
I typically can find the positive in the negative. This is a first-world problem. At least the AC is working, and you’re sitting next to your best friend. But despite all these happy thoughts, an unrest clung to my spirit like gum to a shoe. Have you ever felt that way?
In the grand scheme, this was just an inconvenience that taxed my tired travel nerves. However, God used this low moment in my life to remind me that circumstances shouldn’t control my emotions but that He should be my unshakable center.
Real-life rough patches
Compared to the Apostle Paul’s life, my little travel drama was like dust on a sleeve. In 2 Corinthians 11, he recorded his sufferings for Christ that range from stoning, shipwreck, beatings, imprisonments, and worse.
At first, I’m tempted to think, Yes, but Paul was a super Christian. I’ll never be at his level.
Yet he himself told us the very opposite. “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?” (2 Corinthians 11:29 NKJV)
In other words, he had his times of weakness. He became tired and frustrated, just like we do, but here’s the difference: He didn’t let those emotions control him.
In another letter, he gave this testimony:
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
The solution isn’t to deny the emotions we feel, whether mere frustration or genuine pain from heart-breaking circumstances. The solution is to cling to the unmovable Rock of our faith, Jesus Christ, during them.
Calm in turbulence
We know that our center can’t be ourselves, but there’s a real difference between knowing and applying.
Back to my travel confession. I was trying to distract myself with prayer instead of actually praying. I attempted to pray for other people when I myself needed the Holy Spirit’s work in my own life first. No wonder I felt ineffective and gave up.
Instead, I should have confessed the words of that old song: It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Next time, I need to try this biblical approach:
- Bring my thoughts captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I shouldn’t sugar-coat my feelings and thoughts but be honest with Jesus. He already knows anyway, so why pretend?
- Ask for his will to be at work in my circumstance and for his peace to calm my heart (Philippians 4:6-7).
- Focus my mind on what is good and lovely (Philippians 4:8-9).
I don’t know what challenges you’re facing today, but God does. Whether big or small, God cares and wants you to bring them to him.
Maybe next time life gets turbulent, we can pray something like this: Dear Lord, I feel _____________, and I want to give this emotion to you. Please replace it with your peace and calm. You know the circumstance I’m facing: _________________. Please bring your Word to my mind so that I focus on what’s good and true. Help me trust you to work even this out for good.
When have you struggled to find center, and have you experienced God’s peace when you’ve been honest with Him?