The Things You Can’t Control
So I’m sitting on a plane with a group of minister friends and my wife. A few minutes before the plane takes off, my wife and I pray. We pray for the trip ahead, but we pray especially for the safety of the flight. The engines begin to roar and the plane begins its taxi toward the runway.
Certainly there are many on this flight who have flown before; perhaps there are a few on the flight that have never flown before. Regardless of flight history or experience, there are those whose stomachs begin to quiver at this point.
Their nerves become nervous. Some begin to grip their armrest.
The engines roar again but louder than before. Due to rapid acceleration, passengers begin to be forced into the backs of their seats. Jenny grasps my hand and closes her eyes. We accelerate faster and faster and then…we’re off the ground. A new upward force occurs as the plane continues to lift.
After we climb and climb and climb, the God-amazed, science-interested kid in me can no longer hold his peace. “Jenny, isn’t it interesting how a plane takes off?” As she relinquishes her grip, she nervously nods yes to appease this kid (me) sitting next to her. I go on to explain how drag, lift, acceleration, and other forces and catalysts cause a plane to fly.
But then she asks a question: “What about turbulence?” Oh, what a great question, and that led to a great discussion.
The lay passenger, like myself, can understand the physics behind the causes and occurrences of turbulence in flight.
However, neither I, the lay passenger, nor the pilot can control turbulence.
I can’t do a thing about the turbulence but ride it out. The pilot, while he cannot control the turbulence, is skilled in navigating through turbulence. So for the duration of the flight, even with my cursory understanding of physics, I trust partly in the skill of the pilot. But I trust wholly in the God that sustains us all.
For those of us who travel frequently, we are usually unbothered by the occasional turbulence. We have experienced it before and often. But for those who have not flown frequently, at times they may get frightened by the feelings, experiences, and the what-ifs.
“When I am afraid, I trust in God” (Ps. 56:3).
He didn’t say, “If I ever by chance happen to see someone afraid.” He said, “When I am afraid.” Fear is a natural reaction.
But while fear is a natural reaction, it is not a righteous solution.
David is saying that in the midst of his natural experience of fear, his solution is to trust God.
At times we tend to calm our fear with more knowledge. When we know more about a situation, we are less cautious and afraid of it. That may be true in most instances. However, my surplus or lack of knowledge on a situation doesn’t have any affect on God’s knowledge, understanding, and control of it.
Certainly, I have some understanding on how viruses work. I’ve had the flu before. There are others like me. But again, my knowledge and my previous experiences cannot control the latest virus, Covid-19. However, God has the whole world under control.
Let’s also remember that being prudent and wise are not in contrast to having faith and trusting God.
I trust God, but I also take cover when in tornadic conditions. I trust God, but I go to the doctor and perhaps take medical treatment. In this season of vital worry, we can trust God and still pursue good hygiene and consider others whose immune system may be compromised.