A few years ago, I sat—did I say “sat?”—I meant I was stuck in front of a little girl and her daddy on an airplane. We’d been glued to the tarmac for 45 minutes when we were told for the fourth time that we were delayed again. Ugh.
I blew out a frustrated breath and fumed about everything that was wrong with this airline. I just knew that the past 45 minutes would turn into another 45 minutes and then into four hours and five hours and then … deep breath … I’d miss my connection, be stuck in Chicago and, well, that’s enough. You get the idea. I was not a happy woman.
My stream of outrage was interrupted by the little girl’s sweet voice. “Daddy, I spy something blue.”
I knew her dad was as irritated as I was, but he tried to be cheerful, so he started guessing, “Is it that bug on your t-shirt?”
And so the game went through all the colors of the rainbow and then she said, “Daddy, I spy something good.”
Her dad chuckled.
I figured he laughed for the same reason I did. It was pretty hard to spy anything good in our current, caged predicament.
“Is it a bag of M&Ms?” the dad asked.
“No,” she said.
“Is it your new shoes or your sweet smile?”
They went on and on like this. Who knew there were so many possibilities for good things to be crammed into this stuffy, stationary piece of machinery that should have been soaring through the clouds?
I couldn’t help myself. I smiled. Listening to them pick out everything that was even remotely good helped this grumpy girl think twice about my attitude.
I realized I couldn’t spy anything good because I wasn’t looking for it.
Read this: How to know God’s will for your life
So I decided I would try to spy something good too. But, to see something good in bad situations you’ve gotta look beyond your circumstance. You’ve gotta look through the 4:8 filter!
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
We can all spy something “good” or “lovely” or “true” by applying some 4:8 to whatever we face. We may not be able to remove the bad, but when we apply some 4:8, we will renew our minds.
Everything changes when we decide to dwell on only what meets the 4:8 standard.
When I went rummaging for the good on that airplane, I found it! I was safe and healthy and blessed to be traveling. That was just some of the good stuff that made its way through the 4:8 filter! As I spied the good, I saw the good! Sister, it really made a difference.
You may be stuck in a situation that stinks and you can’t change it. But, if you sift that situation through the 4:8 filter, you’ll begin to see what is good and lovely and true.
So, the next time you feel the grumpiness rise in you, or the next time you start to fume and get frustrated, ask God to help you apply some 4:8 to your thoughts. Oh, girl, when you can’t change a situation, it’s time to change your focus. It’s time to look for the good.
Ask yourself, is what I am dwelling on right now “good, lovely, of a good report?”
If not, renew that thought by focusing on what is true and finding the good in a situation or person. Strain your spiritual eyes to see what is lovely even in an ugly moment. Ask God to install a 4:8 alarm in your heart that will sound off every time you entertain a thought that doesn’t match the verse. This practice will help focus your thoughts on truth.
If you struggle with this—like I do—you may want to jot down the list of adjectives in the verse so you can refer to them all day. Make them a screen saver, put them on a sticky-note or write them on your hand!
The eventual result is that your focus will begin to change—you’ll see the good and lovely in everything!
Now read this: The only way to change your heart
This post originally appeared on JenniferRothschild.com and was republished with permission.
Jennifer Rothschild has written 14 books, including the bestseller Lessons I Learned in the Dark and Me, Myself, and Lies. She’s been featured on Good Morning America and Dr. Phil and is the founder of Fresh Grounded Faith events. Jennifer became blind at age 15 and now helps others live beyond limits.