Taking a road trip can be an exhilarating way to sightsee the familiar and the uncharted. Driving to destinations near and far allows us to capture scenes and sounds unique to the terrain we cross. There may be dips, turns, detours, and pit stops. Through it all, whether we are traveling with others or riding solo with the Lord, the journey can hold treasures for our reflection. Like the joy of embracing the open road, life can be a trip of its own sort.

Embrace the Journey

New territory holds the promise of the unexpected, sometimes pleasant and other times disturbing. Like the God who pilots our course, there are opportunities for us to discover or to re-envision with fresh eyes what we might have otherwise missed. As we journey along life’s course, there will be parts of the path that we’d prefer to exclude, but the trip wouldn’t be the same without it.

Bottlenecks, traffic jams, and collisions are as much a part of the experience as are the joys of adventure, breathtaking scenery, and anticipation of what awaits at our destination. This comparison reminds us that all that we encounter along life’s journey is factored into our greater good because God’s purpose has a grander scope than bumps in the road (Romans 8:28).

While we know that to be true, it can be difficult to embrace when we hit a pothole along the way. We can suffer a mental and emotional blowout or we can call for assistance that recalculates our itinerary with fresh strategy and direction. When we invite God to lead, He may reroute us into adventures and experiences we didn’t know were possible or available.

Sometimes, we discover challenges that bring us to a crossroads, forcing hard choices and summoning resolve. Suspended between where we began and our destination, we may acknowledge that we have journeyed too far to return to what we once knew, yet too close to what God wants to manifest next in our lives.

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. – Psalms 37:23-24, NIV

What do we do with this dilemma? As with anything else, if we seek God, He will show Himself. His counsel stands to guide us in the ways that help us to thrive in life (Proverbs 3:5-6; Jeremiah 29:13). Even though our situations might not make sense, God is committed to offering a peace that transcends comprehension (Philippians 4:7). Let’s put this to work as we explore a handful of spiritual insight and practical steps that will enlighten us on our path.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105, ESV

Be Attentive

Be a student, observe, and listen in God’s presence. Invite Him to direct your attention to what He is revealing in this awkward space. Imagine yourself squeezing the juice out of love, joy, peace, and the other spiritual fruit you’re cultivating in this growing season (Galatians 5:22-23).

While you may not sense the depth of what God is developing in your process, you are maturing and developing in ways that will sweeten what could have been bitter. Let it encourage you that what you endure isn’t just for your benefit. Your life enhances others who need the refreshing of the Holy Spirit springing up in you (John 4:14).

Be a Light

God is a Father and His esteem for family is central to what He orchestrates. He wants His children’s lives to bless one another. Our stories are not for us alone. Choosing to be curious about what God is doing in us instead of complaining will not only elevate our joy but also be light for someone who needs to see Him. We can allow God to surprise and astound us with what He wants to be to and through us during our development process.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14, 16, NIV

Be Open

Intentionally, thank God in your situation. Consider the part of your trial that grates against you. Present it to Him, being honest and specific about where you are weary, annoyed, or frustrated. Sometimes the most troublesome area highlights the place where the Lord wants to work in us. He is a creative Father and often uses challenges to route out impediments that stand in the way of our progress and His glory.

Although it may be difficult to see, opportunities are embedded and hidden within these challenges. God designs our lives with purpose. Although tribulation is an essential ingredient, it unlocks treasure we didn’t know was inside.

We may loathe the trouble that catalyzes His perfect plan but we need to consider that pain and difficulty serve us. It can teach and refine us in an enduring relationship with Christ (Job 23:10). In hard times, our experiences with the Lord convince us of His character and enhance the depth and quality of our own.

Be Grateful

Giving thanks during a challenge resets our perception to revisit the hard things we face from a fresh angle. When we ask, the Holy Spirit reshapes our perspectives. Gratitude then becomes a place of stewardship.

We learn and practice how to appreciate small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). We grow in godliness and contentment, realizing that neither we nor our circumstances will remain static. Gratitude readies our hearts to receive what God wants to add (1 Timothy 6:6).

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33, ESV

Scripture encourages us to find the joy of blessing in trying circumstances. When we are in different kinds of trials, we need food for thought to fuel our spiritual and personal development. A thankful heart powers us through impossible places. Gratitude helps to interrupt the chain of negative thoughts and limiting beliefs. It shifts our attention from ourselves to the center of our thoughts, redirecting them to gaze on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).

There may be many lessons in one season. This gives us opportunities to learn facets of God’s character. While we align and adjust in light of what God has unveiled, tribulation reveals that we are more durable and resilient than we imagined.

As we encounter disturbances within current situations, we can create a gratitude chain to thank God for specific blessings amid trials. Our growing collection of thankful sentiments and statements will outnumber and outweigh the negative. Instead of allowing the tribulation to squeeze joy out of us, we effectively turn the enemy on his head, by pressuring what had once pressured us.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV

Be Joyful

The idea of counting everything as joy holds the experience of tribulation in one hand, while also securing the peace of God in the other (John 16:33). It is one of many ways that we partner with our Lord to bring about change. Furthermore, our praise creates an environment where the Spirit of the Lord loves to dwell (Psalm 22:3).

When we stir up words of thanks, we invite the joy and strength that accompanies His presence in our personal growth and development journey (Psalm 16:11; Nehemiah 8:10). The enemy, who wants to squeeze us under the weight of anxiety and depression, cannot work effectively through thoughts and words that we actively surrender to the Lord.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4, ESV

Next Steps

Life’s journey may take you to unexpectedly delightful places and it may take you to surprisingly dismal places. Learning to endure trials with a grateful heart is not only essential to your spiritual growth but also critical to your personal development.

You might need additional support beyond those in your family, friends, or faith circle. Use this site to locate and schedule an appointment with a counselor who matches your needs. Reach out today and launch, road trip ready, into the personal development adventure that awaits.

“Black car on road”, Courtesy of Unsplash.com, CC0 License