Philadelphia

WRITTEN BY TIM LABRECHE

Today I woke up in Philadelphia. I didn’t plan on waking up in Philadelphia. I was supposed to wake up this morning in warm and sunny Orlando. But something happened beyond my control. Something I had no say in or control over. I had a choice. I had a choice between getting angry and frustrated or making the best of an unfortunate situation.

In James 1:2-4 reads,

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

My friend, whom I was traveling to training with, and myself, were not treated with respect at all yesterday by an airline. When James instructs us to consider it pure joy, that’s a pretty tall feat considering how yesterday unfolded.  These hardships often have the ability to steal our joy. They have the ability, but we have the choice. That’s what James says when he calls it the testing of our faith; when we’re faced with something beyond our control.

What does it mean to persevere through a difficult trial? Every situation is different, but yesterday for me it meant to choose to not let the situation get the best of me. It could look like you trying to push your way through a crowded plane so you can de-board quicker to get to your connecting flight. It may be a knee-jerk reaction when we’re angry with someone who has no sympathy for your plight. At one point, near the very end of a long day, I noticed I was starting to take my frustration out on a desk agent with the words I chose and the tone of my voice. I felt the Holy Spirit pull the reins on my tongue and prompted me to apologize. From that point on, I committed to myself that I would not let my frustration with the events of the day steal my joy. Granted, the day was close to being over, but even that decision late in the day has affected everyone I dealt with from that point on and even how I’m looking back on everything that has happened.

There is joy because these trials, these difficult experiences we are going through, have the ability to produce beautiful things in our lives. Being stuck in a hotel room in an unexpected city for the majority of a day, you would think that no good could come from it. It’s been sweet for the Holy Spirit to reveal some goodness that’s coming from everything that’s unfolded. First, I have the opportunity to write this. I love to write, but with the busy-ness of everything that’s been going on the past year, I haven’t found the time to. Having my fingers on the keyboard and typing this out is refreshing. It’s something I love to do and don’t know that I would have had the opportunity to do so if this didn’t happen. Another sweet benefit from this happening is that as I start to speak in front of people and groups, I now have a really great story to tell! Everyone can relate to a terrible traveling story, right!??! But most of all, the biggest benefit of this entire situation is that I’m growing and maturing in the process. I’m continually learning that things may not always go the way I had hoped or intended and that’s okay. As these things happen, as life occurs, my desire is to daily persevere through the trials, big or small, so I can mature in my relationship and dependence on my Heavenly Father daily. I depend on the Holy Spirit to guide me. He is so good at prompting me when I may be straying from how He wants me to respond. It’s my prayer that I would have a heart that is constantly and consistently tuned into the Spirit’s prompting.

God was with David when he fought Goliath. He was with Paul while he was imprisoned. He was with me in Philadelphia. God’s word promises that he will be our refuge and strength in times of trouble.

What about you? Have you had a terrible, horrible, no-good very bad day recently? What did you do? Did you react harshly or did you respond with grace? I want to encourage you that as your faith is being tested to persevere and seek out how the Holy Spirit is prompting you to respond. By doing so, that’s how we grow.

Father, I thank you for allowing these times in my life that point me to You. You are our ever-present help in times of trouble. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that is our guide in these times. It is my prayer that we would continually be receptive to hear what (or who) your Holy Spirit is guiding us towards. Father, I boldly ask that You allow me to see extra blessings and lessons from the past 24 hours. I ask that for all of us. May we all be able to discern and see how You are at work in our lives. We may think something is an inconvenience or trouble, but Father, we understand and know that you may be allowing it for something else to happen. May we have hearts aligned to Yours when we encounter tribulation of any kind. I thank you for the beauty I’ve seen in Philadelphia this morning and the kind people that have crossed my path today. In Your Holy Name, Amen.