The plane lifted off the LAX runway into the dark sky, and I couldn’t help cringing slightly. I’d been out of my home country before, but this was my first time leaving it alone – and it was going to be the longest I’d ever been away from home and country before.
I was on my way to my assigned mission – the Philippines Iloilo Mission – and, excited as I was, my heart still hurt as I watched the California ground fade into the darkness. It was harder than I’d expected.
I was so focused on how I was feeling that the first bump came as a surprise. We’d flown directly out over the ocean, and the ocean winds hit the plane hard. That first bump was followed by another and another. Honestly, I don’t know how many times the wind shook that plane around.
All I knew was this was not what I signed up for.
Turbulence is never fun. I’d experienced it before, but this was a new level of turbulence that was new to me.
After a few moments of trying to keep my calm and not entirely succeeding, I began to pray. My heart didn’t feel courageous enough to face turbulence when it was already aching from leaving home, and I needed some peace.
The plane continued bouncing and shaking as I prayed. I know it would be cool to tell you that as soon as I finished my prayer the wind stopped and the plane flew smoothly for the rest of the flight. But that isn’t what happened.
I prayed over and over for that first part of the flight. Eventually, not immediately, the winds did die down, though I don’t think the flight was perfectly smooth.
Peace did come though. So did courage. And thinking back on this, I’ve realized that Christ gives us what we need to face the turbulence around us – and that rarely includes taking the turbulence away.
Prayer is the Starting Point
Prayer is a tool that our merciful Father in Heaven has given us to speak directly with Him. The Bible Dictionary describes prayers as “correspondence” not as a recitation. It goes back and forth, both parties speaking, so we can choose the will of our Father.
That correspondence is something I definitely need to work on, but we don’t need to have a perfect relationship with God to pray to Him. In fact, without prayer, we can’t really start to build that relationship. Prayer starts us on the path of building a relationship with God, and it is how we can start to find peace in turbulent times.
Starting to pray, no matter how long it’s been or how unqualified you feel, immediately opens up a conduit to heaven. You may not have a vision or have the storm stop right away, but you will have a connection with God. That connection allows Him to give you what you need, and it will be enough to get you through.
Rely On Faith and Mercy
Sometimes more turbulence comes at us than we feel ready or able to handle. In those moments, fear and exhaustion can hit us hard. The choices we make next are the choices that define us – do we choose to turn to God, or do we turn to anything else?
If we turn to God in faith, our strength and courage will be increased so we can face whatever is in front of us. It may take time, it will still be challenging, and it’s likely the storm will continue for a while. But we will be moving forward with God’s strength lifting us little by little.
And remember this too – Christ suffered everything we’ve ever experienced solely so He could show great mercy to us. He didn’t have to feel every ache or pain we feel for us to be saved from sin, but He chose to feel those things because He wanted to understand each one of us perfectly. He wanted to help us through each of those moments.
Christ knows you in this exact moment – the pain, the happiness, the confusion, the want, and anything else you might feel. And He loves you in this very moment too because He understands you perfectly. You are His. Everything He’s done has been to know you and help you and love you. And as you and I rely on Him, His mercy will carry us through all turbulence we face in our lives.