Peace and joy begin with acceptance.
It’s a phrase that God has often brought to mind during the past decade of near constant trials in our family. Between a daily battle with chronic illness, a debilitating injury, suffering children, financial woes, and the strain of caring for a loved one with mental illness, God’s been providing many lessons in the classroom of acceptance lately.
Not resignation, but acceptance. Because while resignation connotates giving up and laying down in defeat, acceptance connotates believing and trusting that the One who does have control is good and trustworthy, even when I can’t see it in the moment. It’s humbly receiving his purposes and will for our life because we not only believe our Father’s promises, but we trust that he will be faithful to bring them about. For he says,
“I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”Proverbs 3:5
This year has pushed me past limits that I didn’t think God would ask of me. Disappointments have compounded; hopes have been dangled and then seemingly ripped away; and I’ve faced doubts, fears, and feelings of despair that have felt suffocating at times.
There have been many moments where I’ve stood before a proverbial fork in the road. Will I accept what has come from the hand of the Father, trusting there are purposes beyond what I can see in the moment? Or will I believe that God is a cruel taskmaster, using me as a pawn to accomplish his purposes, and is not truly for me and my eternal good?
It’s hard to admit that these thoughts swirl in my mind, but I’m confident that I’m not alone in having them. The enemy works tirelessly to taunt us with these questions and doubts when life makes little sense from our eyes. In these moments – these disorienting, faith-shaking moments – we must fight to hold fast to what we know is true.
“But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”– Romans 5:8, 31
Acceptance says, “God has given his own Son for me to bring me into his presence and glory, despite having nothing to offer in myself. If so, then what he’s allowing in my life comes from the same heart of the Father who was willing to bear the cross on my behalf.”
I admit, there’s so much I simply can’t understand right now. Disappointment seems to be around every corner, and my suffering is only increased when, deep down, I believe that I deserve better. But I’ve also experienced the peace that comes when I accept that whatever my circumstances may be, they have first been sifted through the loving and sovereign hand of my Heavenly Father who knows the beginning, middle, and end of my story.
Do we still grieve, cry, and ask him why? Definitely. But the more we let go of what we expect and think we deserve, the more quickly we’ll be able to receive disappointment and difficulty as preparation for something better and lasting – even as we grieve it’s painful presence.
Friend, there is so much freedom and peace in acceptance. The more we fight his will and stew in what we can’t make sense of, the more miserable we become. The more we trust our circumstances from the hand of our Father who loves us and knows what’s best for us, the more we’ll be attune to the unexpected treasures and blessings to be found. But we sure need his strength and help to reach that point – and stay there!
After canceled Christmas plans due to Covid, sudden difficult circumstances that knocked us off our feet, and now waking up to the inability to move my neck without severe pain – the day before my birthday, I’m getting plenty of real life practice to learn acceptance. And I’m so thankful to not only see the growth God has done in me in this area, but also for his grace and patience in the process.
We are clearly told – “In this world we will have troubles.” But we have also been given the hope we must fix our eyes on in the midst of it – “But take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Lord, help us accept what you have allowed in light of what you’ve promised will one day come.
To read more on the hope we have in suffering, you can purchase “Hope When It Hurts – 30 Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering” authored by Sarah Walton and Kristen Wetherell here or here. Jeff and Sarah Walton’s marriage book, Together Through the Storms – Biblical Encouragements for Your Marriage When Life Hurts. Or pre-order Sarah’s new evangelistic book – Tears and Tossings: Hope in the Waves of Life.