I wrote previously about the ups and downs in life, comparing it to the recent activity on the stock market.

One word that has been used to describe the stock markets in recent days is the word “volatile.” It is interesting to consider the implications of this word for our life of faith in the midst of disabilities.  Volatility in the case of the stock market can sometimes just indicate the sudden and extreme variability of the situation.  Just when you think you have it figured out, it changes again!

Yet, I was interested to see that the primary meaning of “volatile” comes from the field of chemistry.  A volatile substance is one that evaporates easily at normal temperature. Indeed, many of us know what it feels like to see hard-won progress in learning or rehabilitation seemingly evaporate in a minute as some new issue surfaces.

For some chemical substances, easy evaporation can also mean instability. Just one spark can turn an evaporating gas into an explosion. A volatile situation can easily become explosive.  Thus, we act with extra care so we don’t cause that one spark. While we can’t control another person, we can act with gentleness and love to do all that we can to avoid that potentially destructive spark.

I was especially interested in the root meaning of “volatile” from the Latin verb meaning “to fly.”  The ups and downs of life are like flying. We don’t think that we can do it, but when we are launched out into a freefall, we can reach out to God in a new way and receive the wings of faith to fly.

That flight is the active phase of the journey of faith, a time which can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Yet, our active faith flight also needs to be interspersed with times of receiving rest and encouragement from fellow travelers. That’s why a supportive local community of faith is so important!

Indeed, it takes faith to bring us through the up and down times that we experience. Encouraging each other in volatile times requires encouragement, perseverance, a gentleness to defuse the destructive explosions, and a well-rounded faith that is both grounded in the people of God and set in flight by the Spirit of God.

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