On March 20, 2019, Turkish Airlines Flight 1 hit severe air turbulence while about 40 minutes away from landing in New York City. The airlines said the flight “encountered an unusual turbulence” and some 30 people were severely injured after being lifted out of their seats and hitting the ceiling. For the passengers, everything seemed smooth on the flight from Istanbul to New York . . . until turbulence hit.
The newly-appointed ministry of the disciples had been without significant incident to this point. Jesus had granted them authority over unclean spirits and the ability to heal the sick. They were told to “take nothing for the journey” (v. 8), to leave the place that would not listen to them, and to shake the dust off their feet “as a testimony against them” (v. 11). It seemed, as they preached a message of repentance, they found success. Mark tells us that they “drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them” (v. 12).
Despite these successes, turbulence arose in Jesus’ ministry too. The beheading of John the Baptist was certainly a sobering wake-up call. John’s ministry was as faithful as the disciples’ ministry. He had proclaimed a message of righteousness to king Herod. Yet because of the king’s pride and cowardice, John lost his life.
There are seasons in life when serving the Lord seems fairly smooth. We see fruit in the lives of those we are serving, volunteers are plentiful, budgets are strong, and team morale is high. Other times can be extremely challenging: An unforeseen enemy arises within the leadership circle, numbers decline, and we may feel threatened by a culture hostile to our proclamation of Christ. Both the smooth and the rough times are from Christ, and for His glory.
The disciples retrieved the body of John the Baptist and placed him in a tomb, even at risk of being identified by Herod. Today, consider how you can serve someone who is going through a difficult time. Can you pray for them or offer simple words of encouragement? Your visible presence in their life can help bring a sense of calm and peace.