Nothing is more frustrating for an air traveler than facing cancelations with no obvious explanation. Such has been the case at DFW Airport this week.
For example, American Airlines canceled more than 340 flights Tuesday even though skies were clear and there were no equipment failures. The reason: bad weather on Sunday disrupted their travel schedules, resulting in major problems with crew availability in the days following. In fact, more than three-quarters of the cancelations on Tuesday were due to crew staffing problems.
As the Dallas Morning News reports, pilots and flight attendants have limits on how many hours they can work, even if such work is sitting on a runway waiting for the weather to clear or to get clearance for takeoff. When crew members hit their maximum hour limits, they often need to be replaced by other crew members. The more delays and cancellations there are across the system, the more difficult it can be to backfill pilots and flight attendants.
I’ve experienced this often over the years. It can be frustrating to wait to be seated in a restaurant when open tables are visible. Usually, however, this is caused by a shortage of waitstaff and the restaurant’s desire to make sure its customers receive good service once they are seated.
A couple of years ago, I had to take my car in for what I thought were minor repairs. When I didn’t hear back that day, I became frustrated and called for an update only to learn that the damage was far more extensive than I had thought and the mechanics were doing a complete assessment before calling with the news.
All this to say, what we can see is often caused by what we cannot see.
Two consequences follow.
One: We should resist criticizing others for behavior we cannot fully understand.
A counselor once wisely noted that there is always “one thing more” we don’t know about people with whom we are in conflict. Usually, if we learned that “one thing,” we would better understand and perhaps even appreciate their actions.
For example, a man came home from work and told his wife he wanted to take her out for Mexican food. She insisted, however, that she wanted to go to their favorite Chinese restaurant. He became insistent that he wanted what he wanted; she insisted that she wanted what she wanted. Frustrated, he finally yielded and went with her to the Chinese restaurant, where he found a surprise birthday party waiting for him which his wife had arranged.
Jesus warned us, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). We are told, “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers” (James 4:11). We are to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).
Some behavior is obviously unbiblical and cannot be justified even by further knowledge. But often, if we would stop to pray for discernment, patience, and wisdom, the Lord will help us understand what others are experiencing and enable us to serve them with his compassion and grace.
Oswald Chambers is right: “Discernment is God’s call to intercession, never to fault finding.”
Two: God knows what no one else knows.
The Bible teaches that “God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20). Scripture states, “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
As a result, we can know that God understands what no one else does. When we are facing issues that are not visible to the world, our Father sees them and cares for us. He feels our pain and walks with us in our struggles. We have an unseen Companion for the unseen trials of life.
But we can also know that our unseen sins are obvious to him. We may think we’re “getting away with” sins the world does not see, but this is not true with our Lord. We will be judged one day for all we have done, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10). At risk is not eternal salvation for Christians, but eternal reward or loss of reward (1 Corinthians 3:12–15).
I’ll close with this: a few days ago, I got into my car only to detect a strong odor. It smelled like water had caused carpet to rot or an animal had died inside the engine. I opened the windows as I drove to work, but that didn’t help. I left the windows open overnight, but the next morning, the entire garage stank.
So I began seeking the source of the problem. Checking the carpets for moisture, I came to the passenger side front door where I found an empty carton of protein drink I had left days before. The lid was on the carton, but being dairy-based and left in a hot car for a few days, it became the source of the malodorous problem I was trying to solve. Once I removed it, the problem was resolved.
Is there an “empty carton” in your soul today?