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How does one accept something that is already regarded as unacceptable? Ironically there are several things that happen in our life that are unacceptable. Yet, many times we do not have any choice but to accept them even when they are deemed unacceptable. Accepting the unacceptable is about accepting things that we have no power to change. Refusing to accept them is a sure pathway to losing our peace. We battle serious illnesses, and we find it difficult to accept them. We lose loved ones and we cannot bring ourselves to accept it. We fight, we kick, we complain and refuse to accept. The idea here is not that we should not make efforts to change bad situations, but that we must recognize the truth of that situation.
Our natural reaction to uncomfortable situations is to change the situation. However there comes a time when despite our best efforts we are not able to change some situations. This is when acceptance comes in. No matter how much we try, we cannot change the weather. We can do something about it, but we cannot change it. As a matter of fact, the sooner we accept that the weather will be what it will be, the earlier we are able to do something that helps us to deal with the harsh part of it. We cannot change our past. The more we think about the painful aspects of our past, the more difficult it becomes to move on. So, acceptance not only gives us peace, it helps us to deal with our situation.
Accepting the unacceptable is about surrendering fully to the will of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ in human flesh had to suffer. It is not a path any human will love to take. Jesus Christ had to accept to walk this path of suffering so that God’s plan for Him will be fulfilled. The situations of life that come our way are many times not about us. They are about God’s will. Yes, they may be uncomfortable for us, but they are about God’s plan. Refusing to accept these situations, as uncomfortable as they may be, is the same as rejecting the plans of God for us. Again, I should point out here that acceptance does not mean we will not pray, and acceptance does not mean we will not do anything about the situation. Whatever we do will be to the extent that we are able to effect a change in the situation. What we should not engage in is to worry and worry about situations we have no power over. So, when we are sick, we go to the Doctor. When we require help beyond our powers we go to God in prayer. Going to God in prayer is a recognition of our own limitation and an acceptance of the fact that only God can effect a change in the situation.
The popular prayer of serenity is about recognizing the limitations of our power and ability. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference”. This here is what it means to accept the unacceptable. We must seek the courage to change bad situations that comes into our lives, but we must understand that only the serenity of God can help to accept our limitations, and after we do, it again leads to the peace of God in our lives.
One of the reasons we fight accepting difficult situations is that we believe once we accept the situation, we may never be able to change it. The truth however is that because we cannot change the situation, we need to accept it. When we accept the unacceptable, it does not mean we are condoning it or embracing it. It just means that we accept the fact that the situation is what it is. Yes, we may wonder why it is happening or why it is happening to me, in particular? That does not change the fact that it is happening. I like the way Elizabeth George puts it. “I don’t have to understand everything”; “I don’t need to understand everything”; and, “I can’t understand everything”. There is no situation that comes to us that God does not know about. His Word is good enough for me. The Word of God says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13. When it is happening it is difficult to believe, but once it is over we can always look back and see the hands of God in how we overcame. We will only be able to look back when we do not allow worry to destroy our minds during our period of suffering. Accepting the unacceptable is about allowing God to do with us what He desires. It is about walking to our destiny and not away from it. May God keep us in His will always. – Pastor Simbo Odunaiya