It might be that you are facing an insurmountable obstacle right now. It could be a marriage partner unwilling to get help or a health problem that you cannot change. It could be adult children that are making horrible choices or a job situation that can only get worse. Whatever it might be, the degree to which you accept what you cannot control will be the degree of peace that you will be able to experience.
About a week ago my back gave out. That hasn’t happened for quite a while, but every time it does it gets my attention. It’s like adding 30 years to my age – bad years. All of a sudden my 6 foot height turns into 5’ 6”. Also, my normally cheery attitude loses some height. And it’s not just the pain that bothers me – it’s the loss of control. The things that I regularly do become difficult or impossible. The plans that I have made are unexpectedly put on hold and I become more dependent on Nan – and it bugs me.
However I discovered that it wasn’t all bad.
Eventually it taught me to embrace reality and surrender what I couldn’t change. And when I did that my attitude changed back to something a lot more peaceful. Acceptance is a powerful antidepressant.
There are things that we must fight back against. Sometimes people put limitations on us that we shouldn’t accept. And when those are simply the opinion of an uninformed or harsh critic, we should resist. I had a friend who was told that as a result of a car accident, he would never walk again and be forever confined to a wheelchair. This man, a U.S. Marine, found that he was being grouped with people who “typically” don’t recover from his situation. Through persistence, he made a full recovery.
But when reality is the critic, we do well to embrace her warnings.
I had a friend who blew out his finances from bad investments. Instead of accepting the bad decisions and loss that resulted, he began gambling with further “investments” using borrowed money. His goal was to get back the lost money before his wedding day. He lost that too and in the first year of marriage the unhappy couple (and unknowing bride) had to declare bankruptcy.
I also heard a woman on the radio tell of her journey from multimillionaire to living on Social Security alone. When her husband passed away, she was unable to manage their assets and eventually lost everything. But what surprised me was that she said she had never been more at peace. The result was a simple life that left her free to experience God in a whole new way, unencumbered by the complexities and anxieties of managing wealth, a large home and an overflowing schedule.
Accepting losses and limitations can be really hard. It means we have to face our fragility and powerlessness. It means that we have to be dependent on our Creator and trust that He is good, even when we do not understand why bad things are happening in our life.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.