Peace in Crisis (Hero Southwest Airlines Pilot)

Text: Mark 4:35-41

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.” —2 Thessalonians 3:16

Many are saying she had “nerves of steel,” marveling at her composure during a midair crisis. Tammie Jo Shults, a follower of Christ, is the Southwest Airlines pilot who managed to safely land a torn up commercial airplane when one of the engines blew shortly after take off. The explosion blew out a window, killing a passenger. Then Shults, one of the first female fighter pilots in the US Navy for F-18 fighter jets, was able to land the damaged aircraft 30 minutes later. She is being hailed a hero after saving the lives of the other 143 passengers onboard. “God sent his angels to watch over us,” said one thankful passenger.

Shults, a graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University, once said that sitting in the captain’s chair gives her “the opportunity to witness for Christ on almost every flight.” MNU Director of Alumni Kevin Garber chimed, “Her strong faith combined with her tenacity and persistence kept her calm in the face of a terrifying situation.”

It’s not always easy to stay calm under pressure. There’s a familiar line in Rudyard Kipling’s poem that reads, “If you can keep your head when all about you men are losing theirs…then you will be a man my son.”

In Mark 4, we see the disciples in the midst of a vicious windstorm. The furious squall is threatening their very lives. As waves break over the bow of the boat, where do we find Jesus? Asleep on a cushion in the stern! The disciples are unnerved. Perhaps you can identify with them here. Maybe there’s been a time in your life when you felt Jesus was sleeping through your peril. Why is Jesus doing nothing when I am in so much duress? Shouldn’t He be as frantic about this situation as I am? Doesn’t God care? Is He insensitive to my plight?

The frenetic disciples awakened him, crying, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Jesus rebukes the wind and says to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased. There was a great calm, when Jesus turns to his disciples and says, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

I believe that one of the greatest witnesses to our faith is seen in how we handle pressure situations. How we manage a crisis will reveal a whole lot more about what we truly believe than the anecdotes on our social media profiles.

Jesus wants us to have courage and calm in the storm. In John 16:33, he says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” If we truly believe that Jesus has already overcome anything we face, His words will affect the way we navigate through the stress.

James, the Lord’s brother, offers some great advice for those trying to navigate through perilous times. He reminds us that God has a bigger-than-life purpose for allowing trials and troubles. They make us “mature and complete” (James 1:4). The Greek word James uses in this text for “perseverance” (James 1:3) is hupomeno, derived from two Greek words: hupo (under) and meno (remain). For us to experience God’s refining purposes in our lives, we need to remain steadfast while under pressure.

Those disciples must’ve learned something from Jesus in the boat that night, because we see them later looking more like Jesus when faced with a crisis. In Acts 12, Herod laid violent hands on some of the early church leaders. He killed James, the brother of John, and had Peter arrested and thrown into prison. With his life in jeopardy and future uncertain, what do we find Peter doing?

He is sleeping.

Yep, Acts 12:6 tells us the night before Peter was to face trial, “he was asleep,” fastened with chains between two soldiers. He doesn’t know what comes next. He doesn’t have any control over this situation. And here we see Peter looking just like Jesus did during that dangerous storm back in Mark 4. The disciple has matured. He is facing life with that kind of peace that Jesus promised—real peace!

That peace is always afforded to you, Beloved. Whatever you may be facing today, face it by leaning into the promises of God. Your past is redeemed. Your present is in His grip. Your future is secure. You might as well look more like Jesus going through the storm.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank you for the peace that surpasses understanding. We can’t explain it, but we can surely attain it. It’s the peace you offer every one of your children. Help us to know that peace in whatever life may bring. Give us that DNA of Jesus to face the crisis with composure. For your glory, and in your grace, Amen.

Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. How do you tend to handle stress? Do you thrive, panic, numb it with something, hide, etc.?
  2. What complaint did the disciples have about Jesus (Mark 4:38)? Have you ever felt this way?
  3. How had God helped you handle your fears and frustrations during difficult times?
  4. In what area of your life is faith lacking?
  5. In what ways can you lean more into the power and authority of Jesus this week?

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