A Prayer of Serenity
I am not interested in tak- ing sides in the argument of whether this shutdown is being enforced for too long or not. I am interested in my attitude and response about it. How do I deal with circumstances I dislike, but can do little to change? Yes, I have the right to protest and make my democratic voice heard, and that’s okay, but when nothing seems to help, then what?
Often, after I’ve stewed and complained and gotten nowhere, when I’m close to giving up, it hits me.... Oh, yes, now I remember; PRAY. But how should I pray? Keep fighting in my prayer like David did at times, or resign to some greater will or purpose that I’m not privy to knowing about?
It’s only when I’m at my wits’ end, that I remem- ber the guidelines of the Serenity Prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
When do I need to rage, and when do I need to accept? That’s the question. I need wisdom, God’s wisdom. My attitude will impact how I respond. Vic- tor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor, said, “Everything can be taken from a man but . . . the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
This sounds like Paul in Philippians 4:11 (NIV), “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Christopher Reeve, the Superman actor who became paralyzed from the neck down due to a spinal cord injury, said, “I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” So the decision that confronts me is, “Do I want to be a hero, or a victim?”
Is this pandemic-induced isolation getting you down? Have you thought that this might just be a practice run for much greater challenges to come? Ev- erything is relative. If I think two or three months is a long time to be quarantined or housebound, how does two years sound, as was experienced by the young Ann Frank during WWII, or the six Jews hidden in a tiny room no bigger than a closet, in the home of Cor- rie ten Boom in the Netherlands? Ann Frank wrote, “It’s difficult in times like these; ideals, dreams and cherished hope rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I believe . . .”
In what or whom do you believe? Do you have a faith that will see you through? Is your hope based on experiencing some good in this world and this life, or does your faith transcend the comfort and materialis- tic stuff of this present existence? I have an idea that God is graciously allowing us to experience hardship to prepare us to receive something far greater than the temporal blessings of this life. Like Helen Keller, the first deaf and blind lady to earn a college degree, and became an author and activist, said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experi- ence of trial and suffering can the soul be strength- ened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
God grant me the serenity to accept . . . and to change . . . and to know the difference!