THE POWER OF ACCEPTANCE
The Serenity Prayer says, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” it goes on to say “Taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.” There are many unacceptable things in life. It is unacceptable a child suffers with cancer, it is unacceptable terrorists kill innocent people, it is unacceptable an accident brings tragedy to a happy couple. But this is the sinful world we live in not the one we would like it to be.
Jesus chose to accept the unacceptable. The gospel of Matthew 26:37-38 tells us, “He (Jesus) began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.’” In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed to have the unacceptable, his torturous death on a cross, changed so he could avoid such suffering. The original word for troubled meant to be away from home. Jesus felt the alienation of where his future path would take him. He was literally “surrounded by sorrow” as he pondered the cross and the fulfillment of God’s plan.
But Jesus’ response was to say, “Not my will but your will be done.” Jesus accepted the unacceptable. Jesus was willing to have the wrath of God for the world’s sins placed on him. He accepted that only by dying on the cross for humanity’s sins could we be forgiven of our sins, mistakes and failures. Through Jesus we can be made right with God and enjoy a personal relationship with him. We can live a life of purpose and meaning in this world and experience everlasting life in the next.
Acceptance is asking God to give you the ability to take people and situations as they are, not as you want them to be. You come to the place where you are able to accept what you cannot change. There are so many things in life we cannot change. We cannot change the weather, we cannot change the past, we cannot change time and we positively cannot change another person against his will.
Of course there are many things we can change. We can change our attitude, we can change bad habits, we can change our job and we can change how we react to others. We certainly need the courage to change what we can and the wisdom to know what can be changed and what cannot.
In any unacceptable situation there can be denial, anger, bargaining and even depression. The source of true peace is to accept what you cannot change. Acceptance ends the pain and heals the hurt. Acceptance helps us to stop fighting what we can’t win and brings us to a place where the inevitable is acceptable. What we accept we not only live with we ultimately overcome it.