At this moment of greatest weakness Satan seeks to sow distrust and disbelief into our hearts. We doubt that God sees our suffering or hears our prayers.
Published on: 06-29-2018
I love flying. It embodies movement, adventure, discovery—things that evoke joy and a sense of freedom. Wilbur Wright described the feeling superbly: “More than anything else, the sensation is one of perfect peace mingled with an excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost.”1
I remember one such flight with my husband in 2016. Onboard a flight from Tokyo to Bangkok, we were informed that the airline’s central computer system had failed. Flights were grounded worldwide. Seven hours later, having been given permission to take off, the captain announced that a typhoon had moved into our flight path. We would need to reroute 650 kilomers (400 miles) to the south. He assured a safe flight, but that it would be “a little bumpy.”
I consider myself to be a relaxed passenger, but this flight had me on edge. I soon realized that the captain’s definition of “a little bumpy” and mine were vastly different. The sensation was more one of constantly falling than flying. For six hours the airplane shook with turbulence, and the vibration of everything being moved from its place resounded throughout the cabin.
I wanted to sleep. But my mind raced with thoughts of what might happen in a typhoon at 10,600 meters (34,800 feet). I closed my eyes and began praying for safety and rest. During my prayer a scene came to mind. I envisioned a furious storm, much like the one raging outside. The wind was wild and the waves roared. I heard the ship crack as it slammed down a monstrous swell and I saw fear in the eyes of the men aboard. Then another scene: a man sleeping peacefully below deck as the storm whirled above. Peacefully sleeping through the storm! Just what I desired.
Why Are You Afraid?
I heard Christ’s words to His disciples as if spoken directly to me: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40, ESV).2 The word “still” implies previous scenarios in which faith should have developed—times Jesus had proven Himself worthy of their trust. Yet amid trial, the Almighty had been forgotten.
Christ still calls us to remember how He has led, cared for, and blessed along the way. During the turbulence I had trusted in engineers, pilots, and machines rather than the One who “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3, ESV).But when I remembered Christ’s words to the disciples—His words to me—I felt Him reminding me of who He was. Lord of All! Only then did I slip into a peaceful sleep.
In the Midst of Trial
How often is this our experience? We have all faced situations that seem insurmountable. At times, overwhelmed by discouragement and despair, we reach out, trying to grab hold of a solution. We often pour all our trust into money, medicine, or our own recovery plan. We trust in our own strength and fight until we have exhausted every effort and are overcome with weariness.
At this moment of greatest weakness Satan seeks to sow distrust and disbelief into our hearts. We doubt that God sees our suffering or hears our prayers. Just as the disciples in the boat on Lake Gennesaret, we lose sight of a Father who watches over us and cares for our every need.
Scripture is full of heroes of faith and their testimonies of endurance and overcoming trial and tribulation. Abraham, Jacob, Elijah, Job, and others inspire us to greater heights. Similarly, we hear wonderful testimonies from friends and family after they have overcome great trials. Just as the Israelites sang after crossing the sea, they can clearly see God’s leading as they look back.
But what of the testimony of those still experiencing trial? How do they relate to God? How are they allowing their faith to be molded right now, in the moment?
For every hero of faith, Scripture also records times of doubt and weakness. Relying on himself, Abraham lied; Jacob feared; Elijah fled; and Job questioned. But Christ—the author and finisher of our faith—led them to depend on Him. He promised that for every trial He will “make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
We can experience that same faith and dependence. “These things were not written merely that we might read and wonder,” wrote Ellen White, “but that the same faith which wrought in God’s servants of old might work in us. In no less marked a manner than He wrought then will He work now wherever there are hearts of faith to be channels of His power.”3
The very fact that we are called to experience trials can bring a sense of peace. Peace, knowing that not only will He provide strength to overcome, but also that He has faith in us to endure! Our trials become heavenly commendations of our faith!
Since that flight in 2016, my husband and I have faced much more serious trials together. Knowing some of these trials, someone recently said to me, “You seem to be at peace.”
I don’t always feel at peace. Some days I do; others I feel more resigned to the fact that I am not the one in control. I have learned that after self-reliance has failed me, I resort to faith and finally remember Jesus and His constant care.
I often remember when I slept through the turbulence. It reminds me that I can testify of perfect peace while every nerve is strained to the utmost. We can encourage others with our testimony, not only once the trial is over, but as we wrestle in the moment. In the midst of trial the knowledge of how the Father has led in our past informs our present faith. We can share and encourage others with what we are learning, how our faith is developing, and how the Father is working with us.
“As witnesses for Christ, we are to tell what we know, what we ourselves have seen and heard and felt. If we have been following Jesus step by step, we shall have something right to the point to tell concerning the way in which He has led us. We can tell how we have tested His promise, and found the promise true. We can bear witness to what we have known of the grace of Christ. This is the witness for which our Lord calls, and for want of which the world is perishing.”4
1 David McCullough, The Wright Brothers (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015), p. 126.