My son and I were traveling to college out of state recently. I drove the family van and he followed with his truck. We got to our halfway point at 3 am the night before and were up at 8 am the next day to finish the trip. After a quick stop when we had been on the road a couple of hours, I noticed my son pull onto the freeway shoulder. He called to say that the truck was overheating.
At that point I could have gotten very frustrated and agitated. After all, we still had many miles to go until we arrived at the college. We were far from home as well. This was an unnecessary and inconvenient interruption in my schedule. I was still tired from a long drive the day before and little sleep. Honestly, I would have often reacted negatively in such a situation but I’ve been working on improving my attitude and to have more gratitude for the things that are going right.
Here were the blessings I observed about the situation:
- My son was watching the temperature gauge and noticed the engine was hot. We didn’t find the problem by the engine overheating and becoming damaged. By monitoring the gauges he identified trouble before it became an expensive and time consuming problem.
- We were between two exits that were not far apart and both had several stores where I could purchase premixed antifreeze. We had come along stretches where the exits were many more miles apart and some did not have stores at the exits. This could have taken much longer if the problem developed in those areas.
- A short time later we were driving in extremely heavy rain which would have made fixing the problem more difficult and messy. It was still dry when the problem arose.
- The problem did not develop a 2 am when we were tired and trying to reach our destination the night before.
- We left in plenty of time so we weren’t in a rush to fix the problem in order to meet a tight deadline. My son had an event scheduled that night and he still was early even with this problem because we planned to leave early to accommodate potential problems.
- This didn’t happen after I left him at college. I was able to help him fix the problem.
- My son has a vehicle. That is a blessing.
I could probably list more blessings in this problem but I think these illustrate my point. We can look at the bad in any situation or we can see the good, at the very least, how it could have been worse but it was not. We cannot control a lot of the things that happen in our lives but we can control our attitude about the situations!
It is that type of attitude that James describes when he urges us to have joy in trials because of the fruits it produces (James 1:2-4). The problems you endure teach you lessons if you will listen. They can make you wiser in planning better in the future to meet or prevent problems. Dealing with problems gives you experience to help others when they face similar trials. Problems can help you depend on God more than yourself.
Going through trials gives you opportunities to develop a good attitude when facing trials. The reaction I had to this incident was truly a learned response because I have not always reacted in a positive way to obstacles in my life. However, I have learned that obstacles are going to come my way whether my attitude is negative or positive. Why not face it with trust in God’s care, looking for the best in the situation, and actively working to resolve the issue? When I face problems with a more positive attitude, I realized how blessed I am, even when I’m having car troubles.