Should We Try to Accept Difficult Situations?

Rev. Greg Wilcox, senior pastor at the Good Samaritan Society, explains why acceptance can be a powerful approach when we're dealing with tough times.

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Posted in , Jan 25, 2018

A young cancer patient exhibits calm and courage

For Mary Lou Carney, the turnaround in her battle with her weight was not so much physical as it was spiritual—learning to accept the body God gave her. When you’re dealing with challenging circumstances, there’s a power and freedom that come with acceptance. We asked Rev. Greg Wilcox, senior pastor at the Good Samaritan Society, to share his insights:

How can I accept a difficult situation? Some people try to put their situation in perspective by saying, “What I am going through is hard, but I don’t have it as bad as...” It’s a little self-help. Beyond self-help, a great coping resource is to talk to someone who doesn’t attempt to fix your problem but simply listens and makes you feel loved and affirmed. “As Paul does in II Corinthians 12:7–9, where he struggles with a thorn in his flesh, you can think about a hard situation as an opportunity to grow closer to God, to trust him more, to receive his grace,” Wilcox says.

What’s the difference between acceptance and giving up? “If you give up, you’ll have an attitude of resignation, of defeat,” Wilcox says. “That will affect—and infect—the rest of your life. Acceptance is empowering because it’s a choice you’ve made. Even if the outcome isn’t what you hoped for, you’re saying, ‘I can live with it.’ That’s a hopeful attitude.”

How does acceptance open me up to receiving God’s grace? “There’s a new kind of inner dynamic,” Wilcox says. “You’ve given up the constant struggling, the daily grind of trying to achieve a particular outcome. This opens your mind and heart to hearing a word or receiving an affirmation from God.”

What are other spiritual and emotional benefits of acceptance? “Many people have self-worth issues,” Wilcox says. “Acceptance gives you an awareness that you’re loved by God, and the ability to love yourself. With that comes another benefit: the opportunity to give love to others. It’s hard to love someone else if you don’t feel loved yourself.”

What are some other Scripture verses on the idea of acceptance? Wilcox’s favorites include Luke 15:11–32 (the parable of the prodigal son, where, as Wilcox says, “Jesus pictures God’s love and acceptance for us when we go astray and challenges us to love and accept each other in the same way”), Isaiah 49:14–16 (when the Israelites were feeling forsaken and God says his love for them is like that of a mother with her nursing child), Colossians 3:12–14 and I John 3:1.

Visit good-sam.com/guideposts to hear more from Rev. Greg Wilcox’s biblical perspective on acceptance.

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