Recently I was going to visit family, and as sometimes happens during travel, one of my flights was cancelled. There were no flights leaving in time for me to catch my connection, so the airlines offered to put me up in a hotel that night and book me on a flight the following day.
It was really my only option, so while I was disappointed and sad, I agreed and stood waiting while the agent worked out the details. I knew I had a choice to make with my attitude: was I going to moan and complain or was I going to rejoice and be glad?
Several Scriptures floated through my mind: “Rejoice in the Lord always; I say it again, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) and “Always give thanks to God the Father for everything,” (Ephesians 5:20)
“Even for delays and cancelled flights, Lord?”
“Even for delays and cancelled flights.”
After finding something to eat and getting booked into the hotel room, I had many hours stretching out before me and contemplated what I should do. I had my laptop with me, so decided to get some work done that had been piling up. The temperature outside was 100 degrees but inside the room was cool thanks to air conditioning, and the white noise of the fan deadened any noise, so I set to work.
Thus followed a very productive day, as I knocked off task after task on my to-do list, including things that I had put off for many months. It was such a peaceful and quiet work space, and with no interruptions or distractions, I got more done in that time period than I had been able to do for a while.
I smiled as I closed my laptop, thinking of how distraught I had been that morning, but how God had turned it all around for the good. He gifted me with a working retreat, at the airlines’ expense, and now I could better enter into the family events and reunions planned without this weight hanging over me of unfinished work.
We often hear the expression, “Happiness is a choice,” and I believe God’s Word confirms that. It takes faith to choose to be joyful when unhappy circumstances arise. It also takes practicing in small things, like cancelled flights and travel delays, in order for us to give thanks and rejoice in the Lord when big disappointments or tragedies come our way.
I had more chances to practice this lesson on the following day, when I was tested yet again with another delayed flight and missed connection. Thankfully I was able to get booked on a later flight leaving the same day, but I still had to practice choosing to be grateful instead of grumbling. When I stopped and took inventory on what I could give thanks for — that I had this opportunity to visit family, that I had money to buy food, that I had the health and strength to walk between far-apart gates, etc — joy bubbled up within me. And instead of complaining, I started to pray for those around me who had harder challenges like the elderly, the disabled, and parents traveling with babies and young children.
“The Lord is near,” says the next verse in Phil. 4, and God promises never to leave us or forsake us. He also promises “to make all things work to the good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28). We might not see it right away, but we can trust that God is faithful and will show us at some point how He did work things out for our good.