The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
In the 1930’s, American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr penned one of the most popular prayers ever written, the Serenity Prayer. It is likely that you are familiar with the portion most commonly quoted: 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. You may not be as familiar with Niebuhr’s original prayer and the phrases that are less often quoted. Let’s take a look.
God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
Serenity from a biblical perspective is living in a state of submission and surrender to God. It is trusting God’s heart even when we cannot trace His hand. It is being calm in crisis, settled in storms, and at peace—even during painful pandemics like the one we are experiencing today.
Here is something that I believe will prove profitable as we make our way forward through this pandemic. Take this prayer and pray all the way through it. Don’t just stop at the beginning. Meditate on and marinate in each line that follows the opening line.
COVID-19 has reminded us all that life is fragile, and we are not in control of any portion of it. Every moment is a gift from God, including each painful providence, which Niebuhr said offers a pathway to peace—perhaps because he knew that the pain in this life is conforming us to the likeness of our Savior, who was “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). And we can be absolutely certain that our God will indeed make all things right when Jesus returns to consummate His Kingdom. We have His Word on that! So until that glorious day, let us surrender to His will, knowing that happiness is not God’s greatest goal for us in this life; His goal for us is holiness, and we will have more happiness than we know what to do with when we cross the Jordan and enter into His presence. Amen.
You are in my prayers and in my heart.
Purpose and Passion,