How a Breakdown Led to a Breakthrough

I shivered in my seat and tried to flex my frozen toes as I listened to fellow students thank God for our situation. Who thanks God for broken-down buses in freezing weather? Did I mention we had no heat?

After several breakdowns on icy mountain roads and not knowing if we’d ever make it to our weekend retreat, I no longer found these college students’ prayers amusing. When someone spotted the seedy motel across from our stalled bus and suggested we spend the night, I added my silent prayer to their vocal ones.

“Don’t listen to these people! They’re crazy. Please, get us to the retreat.”

My bus ride to a spiritual retreat in Gatlinburg Tennessee introduced me to the concept of giving thanks in all things. I thanked God for things I liked, not for aggravations and disappointments. But these believers began each prayer with thanksgiving, even though they had to be as miserable as I was.

We finally made it to the retreat—long after the evening sessions and everyone was asleep. The weekend’s speakers and worship sessions were surprisingly good. Yet, today, I can’t name one song or sermon. But I’ve never forgotten the faith of the students on the bus.

I probably could have argued with their radical application of faith, but I couldn’t deny their relationship with God. They knew Jesus in a way I didn’t. Their faith in difficulty spoke louder than their songs and sermons.

They knew Jesus in a way I didn’t. Their #faith in difficulty spoke louder than their songs and sermons. #RefreshingFaith, Click To Tweet

Following our trip, I learned I wasn’t the only student whose trajectory of faith changed on that broken school bus. If our bus ride had gone effortlessly, I doubt I’d even remember that weekend.

Today, I whole-heartedly thank God for a broken-down bus and students who trusted God before they saw how He’d use it for good. Now to follow their example. Remembering God’s faithfulness helps. I give thanks because I trust Jesus, not because I see how things will work out. I choose gratitude because God is always working to meet my deepest needs.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT).

Thank you for being a part of our lives and supporting our ministry with your prayers and financial gifts. May the Lord richly bless you this holiday season and always. And if Larry or I can serve you, Lighthouse Ministries is only a call away.

I give thanks because I trust Jesus, not because I see how things will work out. I choose #gratitude because God is always working to meet my deepest needs. #RefreshingFaith Click To Tweet

Click here to comment.


Debbie Wilson

Sometimes I link with these great sites:

#InspireMeMonday, #InstaEncouraements, #TellHisStory and here , #Let’sHaveCoffee#Recharge Wednesday, #Grace&Truth,

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  1. Melissa Henderson

    Amen. We don’t always know the outcome of a situation, but God knows. We can rest in His presence and in His peace.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yes! Thank you, Melissa!

  2. Nancy E. Head

    It can be so hard to trust when we’re uncomfortable. Our response in faith can change eternity for someone. I’m thankful for those who model gratitude when I don’t feel it. Thanks for this post, Debbie! God bless!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Nancy, what a thought. “Our response in faith can change eternity for someone.”

  3. Carol

    This is a wonderful story and an encouragement to give thanks, persevering with faith.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Carol, remembering it challenges me to trust God when I can’t see how He can use something for good!

  4. Ann Musico

    That’s the test, isn’t it Debbie? Being able to sincerely thank God IN all things – good and not so good. I struggle with that at times but I love your story and it makes me realize you never know who may be impacted by how you handle a situation.

    • Debbie Wilson

      It challenges me too, Ann. Value of recalling God’s faithfulness.

  5. Jeanne Takenaka

    Debbie, our perspective in a situation can make all the difference. I love the example those students offered as they chose faith in difficult circumstances. This really spoke to me: “I give thanks because I trust Jesus, not because I see how things will work out. I choose gratitude because God is always working to meet my deepest needs” Yes and amen!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yes, Jeanne. I bet they had no idea how many lives would be changed by their faithfulness.

  6. Natalie Ogbourne

    I so appreciate your honesty about what was memorable about the weekend. The way we get to our destination is often so much more important than the destination itself. So much happened in the gospels as Jesus was making his way from one place to another. True for him. True for us. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Natalie, as one who tends to be goal-oriented, that has been a lesson I’m still learning. Wonderful insight. Thanks.

  7. Donna

    Thank you, Debbie for your transparency! It is not always easy to be grateful in adverse circumstances. I appreciate the lesson, as I found myself grumbling just yesterday about the interruption to “my agenda”, never mind what God’s agenda might have been!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Donna, whining comes all to easy for me! But by God’s grace, I’m still a work in progress.

  8. Bev Rihtarchik

    I’m in a bit of a breakdown at the moment and so I am claiming Romans 8:28! God can work through our breakdowns to truly bring breakthroughs. I needed this reminder!
    Bev xx

    • Debbie Wilson

      Praying with you, Bev. May God lighten your heart with hope! Rom. 15:13

  9. Barbara Harper

    I would have been praying for different accommodations or for a miraculously healed bus, too. It’s all to easy for me to wallow in discontent when things are difficult or uncomfortable. What a gift those thankful students were.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Barbara, they were a gift that keeps giving. Their faith still challenges me.

  10. JD Wininger

    What truth here Ms. Debbie. I think we can all look back and see how another’s example of living out their faith helped to strengthen ours. We see them in action and we recognize how far we have to go yet. My adopted mama was that way. I remember laying in bed in the very early morning and I could see the faint light from the living room where I knew she was sitting in her chair, studying God’s word. After a while, I’d hear her praying out loud for her husband, her children, the family business, the church, our nation, friends, and then finally for herself. It was those last prayers where she would open her heart to God, asking Him to help her grow stronger in her faith. To me, she was a “superhero of faith” already. That was when I realized that sanctification is a lifelong journey. 🙂 Thank you for all your encouraging words today Ms. Debbie.

    • Debbie Wilson

      JD, I look forward to meeting your mom and dad in heaven. I love every story you’ve told about them. They certainly inspire me.

  11. Katherine Pasour

    Your message is a beautiful reminder that we can learn of God’s grace through a multitude of ways, one of which is children and young adults who often share their faith without reservation. Thank you for being so transparent and humble in sharing your story as you remind us of the all important concept of being thankful in all circumstances.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Katherine!

  12. Annie Yorty

    Debbie, I can relate to this powerful life-changing story. God has used the example of others to teach me something new about Himself. I hope He can use my own life in the same way. Thank you!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Me too, Annie. We need the body of Christ.

  13. Martin Johnson

    Trials can make or break our faith life.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Martin, they certainly reveal the condition of our faith and what we’re trusting. Thanks for reading.

  14. Vicki

    Thank you for this reminder to thank God even before we have the answer. Like you wrote, our thanks comes because we trust him in any and every situation.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amen. Thanks, Vicki!

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