James 1:2: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy."
We hate pain. As humans we truly are surprised when life hurts and we are in a rush to make pain and problems go away, we DO NOT WANT pain to linger but the Bible says we are to "count our troubles as joy." In one of my earlier blogs I wrote about the Pathway of Pain and received not just a few responses but hundreds. There are a lot of us in silent desperation putting on a brave face but still in a lot of pain---even believers. Not the least bit insensitive to the fact that pain is relevant and whatever you're going through is YOUR go through I want to share something that I believe is a great need to speed you along the pathway of pain and that is ACCEPTANCE. For some reason, we associate this word with defeat, loss, giving up or complacency but that's not the type of acceptance I'm talking about. I encourage you not only to speak up about your pain as real as it is but also to go beyond that to acknowledging what is right now in spite of your pain you are still blessed. "If you're struggling you're not defeated," says Mike Murdock. See, hating it (pain), desiring to be free from it does not lessen or make pain go away. Neither does self-medication in the form of drugs, sex, alcohol, shopping or eating. Even the anti-depressants taken merely put a coping mechanism in place. It does not address the root of your pain. Acceptance does. It changes focus, and if you're falling helps you to dive--to a change of focus, to a counting of blessings, to a moving forward, to a relief of the daily ache of impatience.
Clearly and compassionately I want to share with you that I know acceptance well and that this word is true because even as a believer I am acquainted with excruciating pain and can preach from knowledge- I have experienced loss and grief-losing a parent (in fact I lost both my birth father and my step-father); my only child (my beautiful son Durrell), all my grandparents on both sides of my family, friends who thrust me into a front row seat to watch them descend into the merciless depth of a slow, incapacitating, painful death from disease despite prayer and fasting for healing from their illness, I've been abused and watched those I love beaten and abused right in front of my eyes; I'm divorced despite both being Christians, financial calamity and loss of employment, I've been deceived and lied to by those I thought I was close to and could trust and the list goes on. Life has hurt me to the core so I can tell you what I'm saying in good faith and confidence. Truly, I have found when God calls a messenger (and I am His mouthpiece) your message, as Beth Moore teaches, is first and foremost "meticulously tested on the messenger." You can accept what's going on in your life, the right here and right now reality of it all in spite of its pain. Stop flailing around with pain-- all your striving will not make it lessen or blur its clear view. I'm not asking you to make peace with it either. I'm saying don't try to make it less than it is but please don't make it more than it is either! This too shall pass. You are blessed with whatever you can grab a hold of and count as a blessing, don't look hard because no matter how bad things are you can find a blessing ---acceptance says this: if someone you love is sick you're blessed you have an opportunity to show love and be a care giver of whom Christ says "a servant is the greatest of all", now I want to caution you to be a wise caregiver-- for God's sake don't burn out but accepting that this is your season to serve is a good thing to do. And God willing they should die (if they're a believer death is the ultimate healing and they are in the presence of the Lord) you're blessed in being able to touch and test eternity...death clarifies and puts you in touch with immortality and you'd best be aware that this life is not all there is; if you're broke and/or unemployed (as I like to say "temporarily out of cash" trust me I have survived once on $2.95 for two weeks facing eviction with NO FOOD, TRANSPORTATION, electricity, cell and cable cut off--I know B-R-O-K-E) you have a chance to not depend on yourself but to depend on God and be humble, ask and receive help and you'll be blessed to see others rise to fill the need--so true in my own life and I'm so grateful to know God motivates His own to do things your own family won't do.
That's just two examples of painful life circumstances that you can infuse acceptance into. Do you see the power of acceptance in changing your focus and lightening your burdens? Its a process to start right where you are that will lift the heaviest of hearts. Remember, "A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing" (Proverbs 17:22). No matter the crack in your universe--and life shifts and slips feel like your whole world spins out of orbit, just remember acceptance will put things in a better perspective. I know its true. You won't just survive or make it through. Acceptance will help you climb, go over, through or around the pathway of pain with faith, mind and heart intact.