No Shortcuts

I have something to confess.

I HATE traffic! Not just slightly dislike or patiently endure . . . I simply hate traffic! I’ve tried listening to books on tape, MP3s, podcasts, and radio . . . but driving still seems like a waste of time. No surprise!

Many life lessons are learned in circumstances we don’t prefer; one of the biggest lessons for me was learned while stuck in traffic.

Traffic Happens

On a Friday evening several years ago, I was sitting in rush-hour traffic. My son’s opening night theater performance was starting in an hour; from the way things were (not) moving, it seemed I would arrive at midnight . . . or so it seemed from my perspective, which was colored bright red with impatience and frustration. (When colors light up in your head, it’s not the best time to make big decisions. Just for tips.)

Tired of waiting in traffic, it was time for me to find a shortcut. The “carpool” lane was wide open; I did have a passenger, but I did not see an opening any time soon. So I thought, I’ll just make one right here and now.

I wasn’t the brightest berry on the branch at that moment. (We never are when we try to circumvent the LAW. Just for tips.)

From a stopped position, I stomped the pedal to the floor. After that moment, I only recall my head hitting something very hard, hearing a thunderous crash of crunching metal, feeling my car spinning around several times across several lanes, then . . . blackness.

Let’s just say, I didn’t make it to my son’s play that night. The left side of my face was crushed—cuts and stitches, blood and bruising.

Now, I’m physically healed but emotionally changed. After four surgeries, three years, and two pieces of metal permanently attached to the bones in my face, I became aware of an essential life lesson everyone will inevitably encounter. It is not about traffic but about waiting patiently, as we endure events or circumstances we dislike . . . even hate.

Trials Happen

Romans 5:3–5; James 1:2–4; and 1 Peter 1:6–7 tell us several essential truths.

  • Each passage begins with a promise . . . we will all encounter trials. Romans says: “When we run into problems and trials” (NLT). James states: “When troubles come your way” (NLT). And 1 Peter states: “Even though you have to endure many trials” (NLT). These passages offer no qualifiers. They state the facts: we will all encounter demanding, difficult, and distressing circumstances.
  • These passages reveal a purpose for the challenging circumstances we’ll face. God uses the problems, trials, troubles, and fiery ordeals to cultivate a Christ-like character and a steadfast faith. No shortcuts. The process of enduring, persevering, trusting, and depending on Christ for our strength refines our character and deepens our faith in Christ.
  • These passages include one behavior that strengthens our ability to press on, to praise, and to thank the Lord for what has come about. Really? Yes. This very day, stop looking for shortcuts, for a getaway plan, for an escape. Instead, thank the Lord that He has brought you to a place where you are fully dependent on Him. Thank Him that He is growing you, maturing you, cutting away the things in your soul that will harm you, and forming you into a person who will have a steadfast, unwavering trust in Christ and eternal hope throughout life.

Traffic does not bug me as much as it used to because I’ve learned to endure it without seeking a shortcut. So it is with our faith. Once we have embraced the promise of trials and accept that God has a purpose in them, then we can praise Him for the greater work He is doing in our lives.

Let Me Hear From You

You may be enduring a situation you don’t like AT ALL. It may be terribly difficult, huge, unexpected, unplanned, unfair, or demanding, with no end in sight. Remember, we are promised these will come about FOR the purpose of maturing our faith.

Question: What have you learned from your trials you would never have learned otherwise? You can leave a comment by clicking here.