Accepting Adversity

by Jan Silvious

Some tragedies strike suddenly and without warning, leaving their mark which must be borne for the rest of one's life.

I think of the mother in her twenties, who held in her arms a little four-year-old girl suffering from severe cerebral palsy. This young woman's circumstances were radically altered by the birth of this child. Her husband had left her, claiming he did not want to be saddled with that kind of burden for the rest of his days.

Has some drastic turn of events changed your life? Perhaps your comfort has been ruffled. Familiar surroundings and reliable relationships may have been altered, and you feel uncertain as to what to expect next.

Could it be that you are having trouble accepting the situation as a reality? Are you fighting the fact that a loving God could be using it for good in your life? Do you feel some sort of mandate to resist? If so, then you are in good company.

When the Job family's life savings were wiped out, all their children killed, and Job himself afflicted with a painful ailment, Mrs. Job had a tough time accepting their state. "Do you still hold fast your integrity?" she asked her husband, bewildered by their multiple tragedies. "Curse God and die!" But he, trusting God, replied, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:9-10).

According to the dictionary, acceptance means "to take something offered, in a positive way." But accepting without question the things that forever change our lives contradicts our natural striving to better our condition.

Arthur Gordon gives us a memorable story about acceptance in his little book, A Touch of Wonder (Revell, 1984):

One Christmas he accompanied a friend—a minister who was deaf and almost blind, due to a genetic defect—into a crowded store. His purchase completed, his friend turned to leave—and encountered a full-length mirror placed on the exit door. "Thinking that someone else was approaching, he stepped aside, Gordon relates. "So, naturally, did the image. He moved forward, and once more met himself. Again he retreated." 

By this time all the customers were caught up in the drama. But on the minister's third attempt to pass, he finally realized that he was looking into a mirror. "'Why,' he cried, It's only me!' He made a grand bow. Good to see you, old boy! Merry Christmas.'"

Gordon heard one of the bystanders say,  "That man really has what it takes." What "it" was, the author says, was the gift of acceptance—"acceptance of limitations that in turn brought the power to transcend them."

Whatever your struggle, I would encourage you to quit fighting and accept it, recognizing that our God is greater than any circumstance. Kicking and arguing will change nothing, but once you calm down and accept God's dealings with you, then you give Him the freedom to work in you and through you to bring about your good and His glory.

From The 5-Minute Devotional,

Zondervan, 1991

© Jan Silvious

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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