I was reminded this week of a famous prayer written by an American theologian named Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). Known as the serenity prayer, it was first published in 1934 and it goes like this:
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.
Arguably, the biggest source of frustration is helplessness: seeing events unfold and feeling powerless to stop the consequences. As Christians, it can be even more exasperating. We see the need; we pray, fast, believe and feel terrible when it doesn’t turn out as we had hoped or wanted. Disappointment is hard to take and our inclination is to go into hiding, blame God and those we associate with him.
Serenity takes us to a different place; it reminds us that the Lord’s ‘grace is sufficient’ and his ‘power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:8). The apostle Paul wrote this after praying three times for God’s intervention for a ‘thorn in the flesh’ (verse 7) and there was no change. The way we handle the trauma is a vital part of our growth: we can live in his grace and power or we can live in hurt and disappointment. Our attitude is our choice and if we choose wisely it doesn’t matter whether we are living in the midst of the storm or the sunshine. Thanks to Jesus, we can still live in his victory.