As a pastor, I often will sit with people as they describe the difficulty they find themselves in. So much anxiety comes with experiencing great loss, unexpected change and regret from past mistakes.
My role is to listen, reflect and look for God in the difficulty. Sometimes, I ask questions that help them uncover the change they desire to have. From experience I have learned to tell people less of what they should do and more of asking what part God is playing in this challenge.
One of the most daunting hills to climb is the mountain named ‘acceptance’. Often people are not ready to accept that change has come and adjust to those things beyond their control.
Real faith does not deny the reality of its challenges; faith accepts the need for God who may or may not change the outcome of the present problem. Faith requires a measure of acceptance.
We see this kind of faith when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are sentenced to death by burning. They tell King Nebuchadnezzar that they will not violate their faith by bowing to his idol. They know that God can save them from the flames, but even if God does not, their faith remains.
We see Job say of the Almighty,
I am much more interested in that kind of faith; not the watered down version that demands God comply with our desired outcome. Have you accepted the reality of your circumstances?
Paul Tournier said:
‘Acceptance of one's life has nothing to do with resignation; it does not mean running away from the struggle. On the contrary, it means accepting it as it comes, with all the handicaps of heredity, of suffering, of psychological complexes and injustices.’[i]
Often, we are not ready to accept life’s limitations and conditions. We want the God of picnics and sunny days. We hope we don’t have to be His welfare recipient in times of trouble.