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Learned on Flight 847
Photo: James Farmer
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).

My father has always been my mentor, spiritually and in other aspects of life. Growing up, I can remember him complimenting people on the fine work that they did. I especially noticed that he did this for those who worked service-type jobs that people so often take for granted. One time Dad complimented a flight attendant who was having to deal with some passengers who were treating her rudely. She was so thankful that she arranged for my dad to sit in first class! I’ve tried to follow my dad’s example and treat others with courtesy and respect.

Last year my husband and I were fortunate to be able to fly to a vacation spot. On one of the longest legs of our flight, which was about four hours, I sat between my husband and an over-sized woman with a persistent cough. Now this cough wasn’t an ordinary cough but one that sounded like she was going to wretch up her stomach. In intervals of 15 seconds she coughed and coughed. I became physically ill.

Not Only Sick but Angry

When I realized this woman was not only making me sick but angry, I started to pray, Lord, please make this woman stop coughing. But the coughing persisted.

Then a thought came to me. This poor woman must be miserable herself. So I changed my prayer: Lord, this woman is not doing well. For her sake help her stop so she can get some relief and feel better. Not too much later the coughing let up a bit, and my tolerance improved.

Throughout the flight the attendant could tell I must be uncomfortable sitting next to this woman, but I was always polite and always smiled. At the end of the flight I had fallen asleep with my head on my husband’s shoulder when I felt something being placed in my lap. When I opened my eyes, to my surprise, there was a bottle of champagne with a cloth napkin wrapped around it. Written on the napkin was the message “Thanks for your smile and manners, from American Airlines, Flight 847.”

To this date the unopened champagne bottle reminds me to always treat people with respect, and to pray for those who are making people miserable, because they themselves are probably even more miserable.

Can you think of someone who bugs you? Maybe it’s prayer time!

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By Kari St. Clair. Excerpted from Fit Forever, compiled by Kay Kuzma, copyright © 2005 by Review & Herald Publishing. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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