Antonis Mavropoulos is a lucky man but he didn’t realise it at the time.
Mavropoulos is from Athens and runs a recycling company. He was traveling to Nairobi, Kenya to attend an environmental conference when he changed planes in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. The gap between his connecting flights was tight; Mr Mavropoulos hurried to his flight but it was too late, the gate had closed.
He didn’t miss the plane by much; he could see the final passengers boarding ahead of him. Mavropoulos argued with the ground staff to let him on the plane but it was to no avail; he would have to wait for the next flight. If missing his flight put him in a bad mood he was about to have a complete change of perspective.
His missed flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed six minutes after take-off killing all 149 passengers on board.
Antonis Mavropoulos was meant to be passenger number 150; minutes earlier he was demanding ground staff to let him onto that plane. Marvropoulos was in shock when he realised what had taken place. Being denied entry to the plane was initially a source of frustration but it turned out to be his very salvation.
Have you ever found yourself angry about something but later were thankful because of how things transpired?
When everything goes wrong
Years ago I applied for a teaching position that I was excited about. I had strong qualifications and my interview went very well. I was feeling confident. I was surprised when I was told my application had not been successful. Someone else had been deemed to be more experienced. I was in a foul mood for the rest of the day; I was angry at God and angry at the world.
Sometimes people get angry when a romantic relationship falls apart or doesn’t get off the ground. I knew a person who flew out to Africa to spend a year doing mission work. Everything went wrong; they never made it to their intended country and faced all kinds of problems and dangers. They returned home disillusioned with their faith in crisis.
A strange turn of events
I was disappointed my job application was unsuccessful, but in a strange turn of events I later got a job as a teaching supervisor, overseeing several teachers in a regional area, including the very teacher who was chosen ahead of me! It was a surreal feeling sitting down to review the very person who beat me to the job. When I supervised this teacher I learnt something: their job wasn’t as good as I thought it was. When I listened to the challenges this teacher faced, the difficult people they had to work with and the stress of the job I thought to myself, ‘I dodged a bullet there’. I complained to God when I was denied this opportunity but now I’m thankful it was kept from me.
A limited perspective
Sometimes people who are angry when their relationship falls apart look back years later and are thankful they didn’t marry the person they were once madly in love with. Ultimately we have a limited perspective when it comes to our choices. We think we know what we want but often we have no idea. God says in Isaiah chapter 55:
‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’
God is all seeing and all knowing, he has a perspective we simply can’t wrap our minds around. This is worth remembering when things aren’t panning out the way we’d like. Who knows why my friend had such a difficult experience in Africa but I do know that only God has a true and accurate perspective on why those events occurred.
Paul writes in Romans chapter 8, verse 28:
‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’
Death swallowed up in victory
Not everything is good. While we live in this sin-stained world there will continue to be awful heartbreak and tragedy. God however is so powerful he can use even the worse of events to bring glory to God and advance his kingdom. The ultimate example is Jesus who dies a cruel and undeserving death. It looks like death has won the day but God had conspired events so that death is swallowed up in victory! (See 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 54).
Next time things go wrong
So next time things go wrong in your life and you’re angry at God, take a moment to thank God. Thank God that he loves you, has never left you, has a plan and purpose for your life and thank God that he sees and knows everything. When things go wrong thank him, you might end up thanking him later anyway.
Travis Barnes lives in central Victoria with his wife and two daughters. He is a contributor for Christian Today and a sportswriter.