Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-8) NIV
The famous “Serenity Prayer” is repeated over and again throughout the world in hearts, homes, and public meetings. How the words minister to our hearts. Yet this morning, God spoke yet again to me about the “peace that passes all understanding” and how this peace is found in one word of that beautiful prayer- accept!
I have been praying of late that God would send His comforting peace into my soul, for it seems to be evading me. So many cares and concerns and worrisome things about us, constantly bombarding us. Not only are we concerned about our economy, the moral backbone of our society, the wars and turmoils engulfing our world, but just in our daily lives, in the local news and even with our closest and dearest friends and loved ones; situations and problems and evils that seem so out of our control and at times even hopeless. Sometimes I ask myself the question, what it the point of it all?
And to make it all the more difficult to face, just as the Bible predicted over 2000 years ago, because sin abounds the love of so many is growing colder and colder. Human relationships are becoming more shallow all the time and true, intimate and lasting relationships are scarce. Loneliness abounds and suicide is at an all time high. How, tell me how is one to find real peace in the midst of a world such as this? You are growing older and know that your time here is limited. You believe in God. You’ve done your best to forsake sin and follow him. You trust you belong to him, and yet, sometimes it still feels like there is no peace. Why is that?
Acceptance! God says, we must accept the good and the evil. We must accept this world as it is. When He first spoke this to me, I drew back. “What? How could this be? How could Almighty God, holy and good, be telling me to just accept the evil? Was there Bible for this? Yes!
One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
…So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. (Job 2:7-10)
Job had learned from God to accept the life God gave to him, whether it was good or evil, for it all belonged to God anyhow, and it all returns to God. He still suffered, but he ultimately retained his peace of mind, the peace that passed all understanding. He did not understand at all why God was allowing these horrible things to happen in his life. He did not understand when or if they would ever end in this life. But he had peace. How do we know that? Because in Job 19: 25-27 he declares,
“I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!”
There are other Bible examples as well- Joseph was sold into slavery and then imprisoned for a crime he had not done; Moses was banned to wander the dessert the remainder of his life; David was pursued by the very King whom he won a great victory for; Esther was given to be wed to a heathen King; And what about Jesus? He was tried, convicted and crucified, for a crimes no one could find him guilty of; And then, there are all of the apostles- their trials, persecutions, imprisonments and deaths. All these retained their peace because they were able to “accept the things that they could not change.” They accepted them because they knew in it all, God was in charge and it all was a part of God’s purpose and plan.
Acceptance doesn’t take away pain, tears, sorrow or anger. It doesn’t make us complacent. But acceptance will give us a peace that will transcend the physical boundaries of this world and culminate into a higher and more beautiful reality.
Serenity- calm, tranquil, composed, at peace
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”