Responding to What We Can and Cannot Control

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Written by BCC Counselor Joel Bradshaw

“Oh my goodness, is everyone OK?” I asked this question immediately to my family.

“I’m sorry,” I said this one to my wife.

I had been driving my wife and kids downstate to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving and had made a hasty lane change without looking first. I thus collided our family car into a very large semi-truck. The momentum carried our little sedan crashing into the concrete portion of a toll booth lane.

We were soon stuck on the side of the interstate waiting for both a taxi and also a tow truck. I needed to continually respond to the situation in a way that both honored God and loved my family.

As I was left with my thoughts, I began to ponder Philippians 4 and ask myself two big questions.

What can I NOT control about my situation?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Paul instructed the Philippian church to go to God with their anxieties. And God would respond by providing the peace that the anxious Christian craves most.

So I began to list the things I couldn’t control. On the interstate, I couldn’t control most of the outcomes regarding our car and getting back home. Would we find a taxi? Would our insurance cover matters?

The things that I cannot control are opportunities to trust God.

What can I control about my situation?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).

Paul commanded the Philippian Christians to focus on the ways in which they should respond and gave them standards as they did so. He even asked them to recall what they had seen modeled for them and to put them into practice.

I took stock that Thanksgiving and applied the biblical standards.

The things that I can control are opportunities to honor or obey God.

On the interstate, I focused on refraining from sarcasm and anger. I told myself to trust God and reminded myself to honor God. I was thus intentional with my words and attitudes with my wife and children that day.


The things you can’t control provide opportunities to trust God. The things you can control provide opportunities to honor God. And even though a terrifying car accident is not a good thing, the anxiety I experienced provided wonderful opportunities to respond biblically.

I always need to respond in life with trust and obedience to God. My helpless, weak moment on the interstate also provided an opportunity for God to show His transforming strength and display His grace (2 Corinthians 12:9) in my life.

I am grateful for how God uses my story for His glory.

My name is Joel and I am honored to serve as a staff counselor for BCC. I have been married for nineteen years and my wife Jennifer and I have two younger children. I have served as a pastor in local churches for over twenty years and find joy in journeying alongside people. I write a daily Bible blog at

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