When I recounted my recent travel trial to my friend, she encouraged me that “everything is content”—meaning everything God puts me through is a wonderful lesson that I might one day use in another book. The thought did feel comforting, especially as I considered the following verses:
In 2 Corinthians 3:1-5, Paul talks about our trials. He writes this: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
I’m learning that when I’m in a trial, I should first look for God’s comfort both in tangible and intangible ways. Then, these comforts I can then pass on to others as they go through trials. And remember this second verse of encouragement from 2 Timothy 2:1-3: “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.“
So let me share.
After speaking in Florida, we flew home for a day of rest. Then I taught two classes and quickly hopped on a plane to speak in Atlanta. Intending to returning for a day of rest and recovery before a trip to Iowa, instead my phone announced a big snowstorm in Chicago the next day. In order to make my trip to Iowa, we decided I might instead fly straight from Atlanta to Iowa. Imaging the scene: I’m dirty. I have no clean clothes. I don’t have travel necessities. I don’t have my speaking notes or materials. I’m beyond exhausted. I’m hungry. I don’t have a winter coat. But still, I knew God wanted me in Iowa. It’s also very late, and I find myself so tired I cannot even drag my suitcase.
Then, the comfort begins.
I find travel necessities in the airport store. God provides a kind young man who helps me with my suitcase. When I arrive from the airport late at night, my host brings everything I need including laundry detergent and quarters for the hotel laundry. She even brings yummy snacks. There I am, wandering a strange hotel alone in my dirty pajamas at midnight, trying to wash my clothes. Tired, disoriented, and a little homesick, I nevertheless begin to see God’s provision at every moment. I wake up refreshed, with clean clothes, a day to spend in Iowa with my dear friend, and an administrative assistant who provides all the notes and things I needed for speaking. Moment-by-moment: everything I needed.
For some, this wouldn’t count as a trial or any kind of hardship. I know people reading are going through far more difficult things. But for me, in all my travel anxiety and need for control, this event stretched my faith and dependence on Jesus more than anything I’ve experienced lately. It felt scary, uncertain, and lonely at first. The interesting thing? In Atlanta, I kept thinking of Philippians 2 and how Jesus took on the “nature of a servant.” In my journal, I wrote down that a servant has no rights to her time, her comforts, her sleep, her food, or her own ideas of a schedule. She’s there to serve and empty herself. I asked God to help me learn to do this—to become more like Jesus and give up my rights to myself—and He did with this travel trial. I learned I can do what God asks and go where He sends me (with or without clean clothes, sleep, or regular meals) because it’s absolutely true what Billy Graham once said: “The will of God will never take you where the grace of God cannot sustain you.”