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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
During my first five years as a stewardess, my employer experienced five airplane crashes. On a particular trip during this season, I was assigned to work the same route as an airplane that had crashed a week prior. I was the stewardess in charge.
The customer gate agent, who was assigned to this flight, informed me that the majority of passengers who were about to board were family members of those who had died in this latest crash. The agent also informed me that one passenger would be brought down early because she was so distressed.
My legs and hands trembled at this news. I felt completely unprepared to receive these people. I was still recovering myself, fearful that I could be next in line to crash. I said a quick, silent prayer asking God to strengthen me. Then I stood at the airplane entrance and anticipated the first passenger’s arrival.
As I peered up the Jetway, I saw the woman stagger around the corner. She was so overcome with grief that she could not walk straight. When she saw our airplane, she immediately wailed. Her cries echoed all the way down the metal loading bridge, straight into my heart. Although I had been a Christian since my teens, I felt so inadequate, and I knew that only God could comfort her in this moment of grief.
When she reached the threshold of the airplane, she grabbed it with both hands, her large body quivering. She then looked up at the crack of sky between the Jetway and the airplane, and with her fingers still grasping the aircraft door jam, she cried out to God in a language that was known only to Him.
I could barely fight my own tears. I prayed silently and repeatedly for God to show me what to do. Since my job was to receive many distressed people, I knew that falling apart was not an option.
After a moment, I put my arm around the woman. She took a deep breath and reached for my hand. “Thank you, Honey,” she said through her sobs. I glanced at the woman’s boarding pass and led her down the aisle. I pointed out her seat to her and handed her a box of tissues, all the while praying, “God, what would you have me do?”Immediately after I returned to the front of the aircraft, the remainder of the passengers boarded. One by one, their somber faces silently passed before me. And with each one, I felt deep sorrow. I looked down to see that they carried shopping bags, brimming with funeral flowers. I noticed that, within seconds, the pungent aroma of those flowers permeated the cabin. And I knew then that I would forever remember the bittersweet scent of a hundred passengers.