Sermons

Summary: Over the past four months, we've had to accept a lot of changes because of COVID-19. That, along with whatever else has happened in our lives. Although acceptance can be difficult, we need to learn to do it as graciously.

ACCEPTING THE NEED TO BE ACCEPTING

As we continue to battle the pandemic there are certain things that have happened where people have chosen not to accept certain guidelines. There have been mass gatherings of unmasked people closer than six feet apart. Businesses have reopened although they were not allowed to.

I understand; it's frustrating. We've been dealing with this for four months. People want to be around each other, businesses are losing money so they're panicking; especially the ones that rely on summer tourism. And the restrictions for those who are allowed to reopen are problematic. Our whole lives have become problematic.

I don't want to accept any of it. I want everything to go back to the way it was prior to March. I want the schools to operate normally, I want churches to operate normally. I want summer vacations to happen, amusement parks to open, etc. Well, Derrick, you're just going to have to accept that this is our new norm. I'm doing a fairly decent job at coming to grips with it but some days I just want to scream, "enough, already!"

I don't often enjoy change. Even when it's for the better I can procrastinate. It's the discomfort of getting used to something new. Many times with something new there are issues to work out before things are running smoothly. Although acceptance can be difficult, we need to learn to do it as graciously as possible.

1) I can accept something without liking it.

One of the synonyms for accept is to put up with or endure. This would be the kind of acceptance that receives something without welcoming it. There can be many things that fit into this category. The COVID-19 restrictions, receiving bad news, dealing with certain people or situations that are problematic, etc. Although there will be some things in life I'll need to tolerate, that doesn't mean I have to be miserable in my acceptance of it.

The Serenity Prayer starts out, God grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change. Serenity means tranquility, calmness, peacefulness. Serenity will allow us to accept things without being edgy or combative. I don't have to be happy about it but having serenity means I can be more at peace about accepting the things I need to.

Another word for serenity is composure. If I have composure I'm able to better handle the change I didn't want. The pandemic produced changes we didn't welcome. Who wants to wear a mask everywhere they go? Who wants to keep wondering what's going to happen with their job or their kids' school?

With these unwelcomed changes will come the temptation to panic. That's one of the antonyms for serenity-panic. We need serenity to help us endure through the situations we face without panicking. Serenity will allow us to tolerate life on life’s terms. Serenity allows us to bear with one another.

And we know how we can get that serenity-God. He's the peace during the storm; it's his Spirit that enables us to face unwanted changes.

Think of Job. After he and his wife had received their unwelcomed change, there came a point when she couldn't take it anymore. After losing everything, she now had to look at her husband covered in sores and boils. He would sit among the ashes, scraping himself with pieces of broken pottery to gain some element of relief. His wife wanted it to be over for him.

Job 2:9-10, "His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said."

It's easy to accept good from God; there's no challenge in that. But to accept trouble? That's something else altogether. Job's wife had a hard time accepting what was happening. I'm not saying Job had an easy time with it, but we see that he was doing a better job at accepting the need to be accepting.

In chapter one, after he lost all his children and his livelihood, it says in vs. 20-22 that he fell to the ground in worship, praised God and didn't accuse him of wrongdoing. He didn't welcome what had happened, but he didn't curse God either. He accepted it and praised him despite it. That's the serenity to accept what he couldn't change.

Another synonym for serenity is contentment. To be content during a pandemic seems ludicrous. How can I be content when everything is out of whack? If we look to God to grant us serenity then we can have peace, contentment, composure and even joy. We need God to grant us serenity so we can accept the things we cannot change.

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