On Sunday night, a Cebu Pacific aircraft overshot the runway in Davao airport, the Philippine’s 3rd most busiest airport. This caused hundreds of passengers stranded in Davao City. Big airlines re-routed their passengers to and from Davao via General Santos Airport. Small budget airlines left their passengers stranded.
According to a report published by rappler.com, several angles of the investigation lead to “pilot error.” Passengers and concerned citizens blame Cebu Pacific crew for not handling the situation humanely.
Even two days after the incident, the Cebu Pacific’s airplane remained in the runway, causing the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to move the deadline twice–their original deadline was Monday at 8pm, then moved to Tuesday, 10am, and again to Tuesday 3pm. Cebu Pacific was not successful in removing the airplane immediately as they want to salvage as much as they can, avoiding more damage to the aircraft.
With this scene in my mind, I could imagine the pressure of the situation. The ground crew handling the heated complaints of passengers, the security personnel looking out, the online reports and complaints of those who are affected directly, indirectly, and those who just want to join in the bandwagon. Everyone is looking for someone to blame, or shift the blame to someone else. Impatience and rage from the passengers are fuelled by each other’s complaints.
Now let’s pause that scene and look at the big picture: God allowed it to happen and so He must have things to teach us using the circumstances, resting on the fact that He is in absolute control of the situation (even if CAAP, Cebu Pacific, Davao Airport Management, etc. are not). In particular, I believe He teaches the following things:
- To have a thankful heart. Paul said in his first letter to the Thessalonians, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1Thes.5:18)” Amidst the delays and heartaches being stranded can cause, we can still be thankful that no one was hurt in the 165 passengers aboard the Cebu Pacific plane. We can be thankful that the stranded passengers are still also safe amidst the possibility of engine explosion. We can be thankful that those we love in Davao will only be temporarily separated from us, unlike the three fathers who were killed in the Serendra blast who departed from their family for this lifetime.
- To trust Him completely. The wisest man who ever lived reminded us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)” We may not, at the moment, understand why people are stranded, and why the small budget airlines are not re-routing their passengers. However, it is in trusting that He is in complete and absolute control that will bring us His peace which transcends all understanding. As one of my former teachers would have said, “this is definitely a perfect situation to trust the Lord.”
- To change our ways that are not pleasing to Him. We are born with a factory defect–sin. Paul said in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Because of sin, “we have become strangers not only to God, but also to ourselves,” Roy Hession said. Therefore, God makes ways for Him to show us ourselves, and this situation is also a perfect opportunity to reveal how sinful we are–impatient, selfish, and easily angered among others. Will we respond with a sense of responsibility, as a mature person would do? Or will we simply react, which will definitely do more damage to an already bad day? When we have confessed and repented of the sins that were revealed to us, we are more conscious to respond in ways that are pleasing to God. Next time, God will be able to reveal to us other sins that hide in the darkness. As Hession puts it, “The reward of your obedience to light will be more light on further sin. He does not show us ourselves all at once, for we could not bear it. But He does so progressively, as each bit of truth obeyed leads to further revelations of ourselves.”
In everything, God promises us that things will work out for the best of those who love Him and who are called to His purpose. Paul further adds, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” (Romans 8:28-29).
I put an emphasis on loving God since this is the heart of discipleship. Following Jesus means loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. However, sometimes, we become spiritually stranded–we say we’re hurt, we say we can’t, we doubt, and we’re too busy that’s why we don’t make time for God. Rev. Edmund Chan called these as the primal wounds of the heart, paralysis of the will, cynicism of the mind, and overcrowding of our soul. All these hinder us from loving God will all that we are.
Unlike the passengers of Davao, we don’t need an aircraft to fly home to God when we’re spiritually stranded. We just need to come home because God assures us of His absolute love for us. Lifting Rev. Chan, God tells us: “Whatever you’ve done, whatever you become, it doesn’t matter. I love you! ” Furthermore, he tells us with Godly wisdom our problem today:
“I know we hide behind banners…in the church like discipleship, world missions, change the world. But in the carnality and darkness of the soul, there are many, many Christians who are lost in their darkness and in their confusion. And we might say the right things, attend the right meetings, might be seen in the right places, but in the corner of the darkness of our hearts, we know we re far from God. And we must hear once again these words of love: Whatever you’ve done, whatever you’ve become, I love you!”
So, will we stay stranded, or come home? The choice is ours to make.