By: Jana Greene
Well, kids – here’s the bad news: At the end of the day, bad things are going to happen and there’s nothing any of us can do about it. That’s the truth.
You can march. You can holler. But morality refuses to be legislated and the planet is still a broken place.
If Jesus wasn’t spared suffering, we aren’t getting out of it either. I’m not here to feed you a line about everything happening for a reason, and God opening a window when you could really use an actual open DOOR, etc. etc. Every time someone says “When God closes a door, He opens a window” I want to punch that person in the face. Because what if the window is on the 21st floor?
Then I remember something important – my God is not a sadist. If you ask Him for bread, He will not give you a stone, because He is a good, good Father – it’s who He is. (Everybody sing along!)
A lot of bad things happen this side of the Kingdom that I don’t understand.
Nothing irks me more than Christians who talk of God as if he easily figured out. As if he is Russian gymnast coach, watching your every stance to make sure you stay perfectly aligned on the balance beam, or a lottery god who increases the odds of your winning the jackpot if you buy more prayer tickets.
Stop glossing over the sovereignty of the Almighty God in order to try to understand why the world isn’t a fair place. Of what use is a god your mind can figure out? A god so small you can understand him?
Ah, but that’s where this gets interesting.
I’m in seminary school right now, and loving every minute of it. It is a grace-based teaching, which takes into consideration the original Greek and Hebrew meanings and examines the context of scripture. It is blowing my mind, which is kind of mushy from 48 years of desperately trying to figure everything out.
Here is the GOOD NEWS, and my takeaway so far: Stop trying to manipulate the God of the Universe by suggesting ‘better’ ways of making things happen. Start believing – really believing – that the message of the simple Gospel isn’t trying to trip you up, control you, be a thief of joy.
It is LOVE. A love like none other. The God that spun the cosmos wants you to know that He is madly, passionately in love with Little Old You. And Little Old Me.
I love the Serenity Prayer. But hardly anyone reads it the whole way through – and that’s where the gold is hidden.
God Jehovah, grant me serenity!
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.
The wisdom to know the difference is key here. I struggle at times. I have a void, maybe you do, too. I was born with mine, like a birth defect – a life defect. A character defect, as they say in The Rooms. The void is a greedy and cavernous hole. Sometimes it is lined with depression or anxiety, sometimes frustrations and disappointments. I have, at various times, tried to pour alcohol in the hole, over eating, self-pity, various forms of people-pleasing … you name it. It eats the lining away for about five minutes (or until I finish the 12th brownie) and then just ends up being a bigger hole.
God heals it up every time. He tells me it isn’t a defect. He tells me the scar is beautiful. But sometimes I pick at it until it bleeds again.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
I want the world around me to be a calm place, steeped in a lavender vibe, full of shalom.
I want to fall asleep easily at the end of each day, to feel the sweet cream of drowsiness anoint my spastic mind and soak into my every fiber until I can really finally, you know, rest.
I want people to be excellent to each other. And if not excellent, just shoot for not being a total jerk, for crying out loud.
But instead I have to be mindful in the moment, one moment at a time. And as I get better at mindfulness, I can appreciate the ‘now.’
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
I used to think this meant praising God for my infirmaries, as some churches had touted. As a person who has a number of chronic health conditions, let me just say, it is NOT HELPFUL to tell a hurting person to praise God for their migraine or bankruptcy. Holy cow, just stop it people, please. There is a difference between “Hey, Jesus, thanks for allowing me to go through this hardship” – and acceptance that Jesus walks the pathway with you, even through the hardships.
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Not as I would have it. Not as I would have it. Not all lavender sweet cream and shalom. Not when the GOP and the Democrats align views and sing Kumbaya together. Not when people stop cutting me off in traffic. Not when I lose 20 pounds, become a legit writer, balance perfectly on the beam. Or win the lottery…..
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;
I surrender all. God grant me the serenity – not the complacency – to surrender all.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely
happy with Him forever in the next.
Reasonable happiness, what a concept! The joy endowed by Holy Spirit in us cannot be misinterpreted as ‘happiness.’ I may be happy AND unhappy a thousand times a day (menopause, what a ride!) but I’m promised supreme happiness with God eternally!
Bad things will happen and this world is a mess. We don’t have to understand why it isn’t a fair place, we just have to carry a message of love to the broken world.
Maybe we should agree with the world that YES, terrible things that make no sense happen and there is no denying it. But there is a Force of Life called Divine Love, and in the end, LOVE always wins. That’s all I know.
God, grant me the serenity. At the end of the day, help me to trust your sovereignty in this world…this messed-up world that you SO loved that you sent your only begotten son. Take the space in my void and fill it with Holy Spirit so that some of that sweet insatiable unconditional love spills out of me and into the world. And keep pouring.
(The Serenity Prayer)