The day had been long, hard, and disappointing. I sat on the stiff chair at the airport gate longing for my flight to be called so that I could go home and sleep it all off.
I glanced at my watch. A two-hour lag awaited me. My muscles cramped with fatigue, and my mind ached with discouragement. I had come to California to take a certification exam for my work. I had studied so hard and so long for this test, yet my nerves betrayed me, and I hadn’t done as well as I had hoped. The thought of having to wait was almost unbearable – but what choice did I have but to wait?
Forcing my thougths off my discomfort, I began to read a book I had just purchased at a gift shop. It felt good to read for pleasure – something I hadn’t done in months, while preparing for my exam.
Finally, our flight was called and one-by-one weary passengers formed a line. I made my way towards a pretty lady who stood at the counter. “I’m flying on stand-by,” I told her, expecting her to issue a boarding pass for me.
“I’m so sorry,” she responded, “but the flight is very full. Looks like you’re going to have to wait for the next flight. It leaves tomorrow, at 6:00 a.m. But I’ll let you know once I know for sure.”
My ears began to ring. This couldn’t be happening. Oh, Lord, say it isn’t so!
I’ll give you grace.
Oh, gosh, that’s not what I wanted to hear. So I stood by the counter, hoping and waiting, like a hungry puppy near her master’s table. But when the lady at the counter turned to look at me, shaking her pretty head with compassion, I knew I was toast.
I cried and I pouted and felt sorry for myself. Then I took comfort in the words I had heard: I’ll give you grace.
Finding a seat at the airport, as hidden from view as possible, I positioned my suitcase on the seat next to it and used it as a pillow. I read for a while and then slept like a baby (that is, I woke up every hour hungry, wailing and wanting my mommy.) Eventually, my alarm went off, and I walked back to my gate.
This time I received a boarding pass right away and made it home with no delays. Oh, how good it felt to put my head on my very own pillow instead of the hard suitcase when I got home!
And as I made my happy way onto dreamland, I thought about all of my friends whose hopes and prayers have received a similar answer to the one I’d gotten the evening before: Not today, perhaps next time.
My heart was filled with such compassion for them. These are friends who are sick, unemployed or going through difficulties. The wait is long and hard and painful. Once again, I took comfort in the words I heard at the airport, the same words God has faithfully spoken to my friends: I’ll give you grace.
I pray that these same words will fill these dear ones with hope and renewed strength. Just like Isaiah prophesied: [God] gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (40:29-31, NIV)