Part 2 in a series on acceptance of difficulties, trials, and suffering.
“Whatever is in the cup that God is offering me, whether it be pain and sorrow and suffering and grief along with the many joys, I am willing to take it because I trust Him.” – Elisabeth Elliot
In the previous post, we looked into Romans 8:18-25, discovering some of the value for us in our difficulties, trials and suffering. We also explored the response of acceptance as the best course for us in every difficult circumstance. Acceptance of our difficulties is the response of faith in our God, His goodness, power, justice, and most importantly, love.
Another reason for us to have hope in our difficulties, trials, and suffering is that the Spirit of our God is alive within us and walks through our difficulties with us. The Holy Spirit of Christ is continually present in every true disciple; we are truly never alone. In difficult times, we need to respond in faith and reach out in faith and submission to our God. This is the path to experiencing the joy of the presence of our God. We can be certain he is with us in our difficulties and troubles.
Reaching out to our God is important because when we reach out to Him, the Holy Spirit also intercedes for us to God the Father on our behalf. In Romans 8:26-27, Paul writes, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” We often do not know how to pray, especially in difficult and painful times. We can rejoice in knowing it is the role of the Spirit of Christ to pray on our behalf. Sometimes our best and most effective prayers are to simply call upon the name of the Lord and to plead for His mercy in our difficulties. The Holy Spirit will interpret our prayers according to the will of the Father.
Our God is aware of and in control of all things. Because His Spirit is intimately aware of our needs, capacities, and difficulties, we need not fear any event in our lives. Not any difficulty, trial or testing. Not any danger. Not even death. We are not alone in any of these. The Spirit of God is continually present in the true follower of Christ. We are prayed for by the Holy Spirit Himself. Our God is working in us in the situation out of His great love for us. Thus, Paul writes in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” All things, not just the things we see as good.
Acceptance is key. In this passage we find the reason to accept everything that comes our way in life as a gift from our God. To accept these willingly and without fear or dismay is to affirm that our God is indeed good, and that He we are never alone in our trials. It is to affirm that He is acting out of love toward us. It is to know for certain that we indeed will benefit from these events and will be made better, holier, stronger, and more like Christ Himself as we go through them.
Acceptance of everything our God is doing in our lives is an act of worship. We express our God’s worth to us by our full submission to His work in us. We worship Him by our full cooperation in whatever He is doing in our lives, even if some of it is difficult. Conversely, a failure to see all the circumstances in our lives as gifts for God’s purposes and for our good is to deny our God the worship due Him.
Acceptance of our God’s work in us is a cause for true joy. Because He is working for our good we can find joy even in pain or sorrow. In James 1 we are told, “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Acceptance of our God’s work in us, even when it is difficult, leads to heartfelt gratitude toward our God. We have no problem being grateful for the gifts He gives that bear no pain or difficulty, because they are good for us. Those gifts that bear pain and difficulty are equally good for us, and an equal cause for grateful thanks.
It is then of great importance to your well-being to choose wisely your response to difficulties, trials and suffering. These circumstances do not make us sad, angry, upset, or frightened. We choose acceptance, or we do not. We choose our responses, we are not victims of them. We can choose to be content no matter our circumstances, and can exhibit grateful, worshipful, and joyful responses. Paul wrote about his choices to difficulties in 2 Corinthians 12:10. “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
To choose to accept our difficulties, trials and sufferings as gifts from our God acknowledges that He is indeed Lord of the troubles we are in and is the first step toward peace. It is up to us to choose wisely, and to seek our God in submission, humility, and acceptance.
Look for the third and final post on acceptance of difficulty.