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October 1, 2010

On August 24, 2001 Air Transat flight 236 with 306 people on board took off from Toronto on route to Lisbon, Portugal.  Midway over the Atlantic Ocean, more than 1,000 miles from the coast of Portugal, Captain Robert Piche and his crew noticed a fuel leak.  23 minutes later, fuel almost exhausted, Captain Piche issued a mayday emergency distress signal.  40 minutes later the right engine lost power and went dead.  Two minutes later the left engine, the last of the two engines, lost power and died.  Still hundreds of miles from Portugal the airplane was without power and helpless.

 As the plane dropped through the sky depressurized and jerking around passengers panicked and screamed.  Captain Piche with only minimum power, a control stick and an emergency propeller, wrestled with the jetliner for 18 minutes while guiding it to Lajes Airport on Terciera Island in the Azores.  When the plane landed it hit with such force that the tires exploded bursting into flames.  One of the passengers said, “It was a miracle we survived.”

 Do you ever feel like that?  Not that we’re at 30,000 feet in the air and falling.  But, like things are out of control and very wrong?  Like being in an airplane fuselage, the tightness of a cylinder that we can’t escape from and helpless in the circumstances around us, being carried along to a destination you don’t want to go to?  Hopeless.

 Remember Job?  A man who had everything going for him.  Righteous.  Totally dedicated to God.  Blessed by God in so many ways.  A man who, in one day, had everything but his life stripped away.  Devastated, his life in freefall, sitting in the crud of the street scraping his boils with little pieces of pottery, what hope does Job have?  What expectation that there will ever be anything different?  Job questions God:  “I don’t deserve this.”  “This is just wrong.”  “Why don’t You answer me?”  “Where are You in all this?”  Been there?  I’ll add one more of my own, “There is no way out of this.” 

 God’s response to Job includes a seemingly harsh question, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?  You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”  (Job 40:2 NLT)

 Somehow we have the idea that life is about us and our enjoyment of life.  God, speaking to Job, reminds us that life isn’t lived in those terms.  Life is not about whether or not we own real estate or how large our house is.  Its not about whether or not we have a family or how many children or grandchildren we have.  Its not the size of our portfolio or retirement “nest egg”.  Life isn’t even about having good health.  A philosophy that whines or criticizes God when things go wrong is an empty, shallow, distorted view of life.  Life is about glorifying God, about remaining faithful in our relationship to Him in riches and in poverty, in whatever He sovereignly chooses to bless us with or to withhold from our lives.  

 If the only hope we have is in ourselves and our understanding of life we are in serious trouble.  If we insist on living life on our terms rather than accepting God’s authority over our lives and circumstances we will remain miserable, despairing, hopeless people.  When we realize that life is about God we begin to realize hope that transcends the conditions of our lives. 

 The Almighty God Who does have the answers (whether He chooses to share them with us or not) is in unquestioned control over what happens.  He sets the boundaries of what we experience and He knows how much we can bear.  He continually has His protecting hands around us as He provides all that we need and walks with us through life.  He saves us by His power and the shed blood of Jesus and has already established our eternal destiny.  In the midst of life what better answers could we come up with?

 Hope exists.  The question is whether or not we will trust God that it does.  It whatever circumstance you find yourself you always have the choice of turning towards God.  Maybe that is the simple prayer of, “God I will trust you with ___________ .”