I looked out over the clouds, gilded by the morning sun, the ripples and peaks frozen like ocean waves, forever cresting.
Creation is awe-inspiring at 30,000 feet.
A fragment of a verse popped into my head: “His mercies are new every morning.”
I struggled to remember the verse’s location, and looked it up. Lamentations 3. Wait, Lamentations?
My eyes were still gritty from the oh-so-enriching experience of sleeping on a trans-Atlantic flight in the approximate shape of a pretzel. I turned to the beginning of the chapter.
I am the man who has seen affliction
under the rod of his wrath;
he has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light;
surely against me he turns his hand
again and again the whole day long.
I read on. More of the same. Pestilence. Ruin. Sorrow. Twenty verses of it, in fact.
It’s been a while since I’ve perused the book of Lamentations. I’d forgotten how much … er, lamenting there is. I’d also never quite noticed the context of it. Lamentations was written during Babylon’s destruction of Jerusalem and for the most part, deals with the tragic, often gruesome suffering of the community. Chapter 3 is different – it’s a personal testimony of Jeremiah’s own sufferings.
Then I read verses 19-24:
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
That, my friends, is faith. It is a true understanding of what it means to walk the Christian walk, and it’s an understanding learned through trial by fire, according to the ESV Literary Study Bible:
Jeremiah experienced the morning-by-morning mercies of God while he was enduring the most excruciating sufferings that almost anyone can imagine. In remembering his God, the prophet gains a clearer and more complete understanding of God’s sovereign purposes for the suffering of his people.
Jeremiah turned to God – even after God had allowed him to experience some horrendous things. Is that my inclination? Hardly.
Of all of the verses that could have come to mind, this passage was what I needed to meditate on. Sure, flying can be a roller coaster ride. But I love those quiet times, when I’ve put away the book, turned off the iPod and taken time to just be still. There’s a peace there.
As the plane touched down in Nairobi, I was exhausted and greasy from 24 hours of travel. I am pretty sure I almost caused a security panic at Pittsburgh, when I left one of my bags at the security checkpoint.
Security lady: Is this your bag?
Me: Yes, sorry.
SL: OK, tell me what’s in it so I can verify.
Me: (mind suddenly blank) Uh, clothes? Sandals?
In Chicago, I’d had my obligatory blonde moment when I couldn’t figure out why the water fountain didn’t turn on when I put my water bottle under the sensor. That would be because there was no sensor; there was a normal button just like 98 percent of all water fountains. My bad.
And in London, after going through one queue after another from the arrival gate to a waiting area, I’m pretty sure I backtracked all the way for my departure gate. Estimated walking distance: Four miles. Those British and their queues.
Normal snags in travel. Nothing big – sorry, guys. Even my all bags arrived in one piece.
But as I start my time in Kenya, I cherish those peaceful reminders of God’s provision – even as a whole new chapter begins.
As we passed somewhere over Ethiopia, the only sound on board was the steady hum of the engines. Most passengers slept. The sun set, spreading golden hues across the rippling clouds. I’d watched the sun rise and set at 30,000 feet.
What an awe-inspiring reminder of God’s provision in all things.