We Are So Quick To Grumble

by Kristen Gilles

in Exhortations And Musings

Line of cars in Louisville trafficOnce upon a time, in a land I call home, hundreds of thousands of commuters traversed three bridges every day. Then suddenly, one early September Friday, the bridge in the west end of the city was routinely inspected and deemed impassable for an indefinite period of time until necessary repairs could be completed.

That was a very difficult day for everyone living on either side of the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky. The bridge was closed at 5:15 p.m., during evening rush hour. Those who didn’t make it across before the bridge closure were stuck circumnavigating the city for the next three hours, trying to get home across the two remaining functional bridges. And that was just the beginning of an indefinite period of testing for all of us who would be enduring the traffic nightmare each morning and evening.

Approximately 89,000 drivers traverse the west end bridge (the Sherman Minton Bridge) every day. Bobby and I are two of them. We live in the west end of Kentuckiana (the area of Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky bordering the Ohio River at the junction of Louisville) on the Indiana side. We work in downtown Louisville, just 5 miles away from home. A quick jaunt across the river.

Not so quick after that infamous Friday. Every day thereafter required more time in our cars, more mental energy (read: STRESS) figuring out how to get around town, more gasoline, and much more grace to endure patiently as we waited. Everyone in the area, including us, had to adjust their sleep and work schedules to navigate the traffic situation. On the best of the worst traffic days, we all crawled along the roadways until we reached our destinations. On the worst of the worst traffic days, we all parked on the roadways waiting for a long time to move an inch toward our destinations.

Every day of this traffic trial afforded me many new opportunities to sin and to repent and experience God’s grace. I am severely tested in traffic tie-ups. I’m wired to strive for efficient use of my time and resources. I expect others to be as efficient and therefore I’m often disappointed, frustrated and tempted to sinfully grumble against others. Needless to say, I failed miserably to love my driving neighbors on most days. God, however, never failed to convict and correct and comfort me with His saving grace.

Not only that, but He reminded me on the days when I was most complaining, that by His grace and providence the faultiness of the west end bridge was revealed and able to be mended. He was to be praised for saving our lives from destruction in a bridge collapse.

Remember the Minnesota bridge collapse? I remember hearing Matt Chandler say in a sermon “Why do we never thank God for the thousands of bridges that are crossed safely every day? Why, instead, do we raise our fists at Him in anger when one of them fails?” I was convicted daily by this reflection.

Further, God provided a boost to our local economy by providing jobs for local construction workers who served tirelessly around the clock for six months to get the bridge repaired and reopened. And God is to be praised for what turned out to be nearly the mildest winter we’ve ever had, which prevented the traffic from being even worse (and more deadly). And it allowed the bridge workers to complete their job 10 days before the contract deadline. And since they finished early, the contracting company received a $1.2 million bonus. What a blessing to laborers and their families. Also, countless other employers in the area (including mine) were graciously flexible regarding their Indiana employees’ work schedules, and allowed them to make adjustments as needed to best endure the terrible traffic.

And what a huge blessing to have the bridge fortified and reopened. We’ve been driving across it with thankful hearts for the last month. We’ve also been enjoying more time together outside of our cars, more sleep, and much relief from additional commuting stress.

In everything God calls us to give thanks. God reminded me of this throughout the last six months of my being tempted daily to moan about our situation.  The truth remains that at all times, in every situation (easy or difficult), God is entirely good and most worthy of all of our praise.

Photo courtesy Sojourn communications deacon Chuck Heeke


Fred McKinnon March 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Man, I can actually imagine just how big a hassle that was. I’m glad you were able to see come out on the other side with the right heart in the matter. Great story, convicting in my own life, in it’s own way!

Jessica March 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Great thoughts on what most would deem to be a “God doesn’t care about this” issue. Although I didn’t have to travel across the bridge as often, as a stay at home mom, the times I did have to go to Louisville were not fun. I was impatient with drivers that couldn’t read signs and with my kids who were cranky because it took us an hour to get to our destination, instead of 20-25 minutes. Oddly enough, we were going to a Bible Study on Wednesday mornings. I fought with God every week on why it would be so much easier to just sleep in and stay home. He very gently reminded me that He was worthy of whatever inconvenience I encountered getting there. The fellowship and the teaching, not just for me, but for my kids, too, proved Him to be true every time.

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