As a middle-aged man, I am confronted by ever growing limitations and loss. Granted, I don’t experience these as my elderly mom does, but I certainly don’t have delusions of saving the world anymore and I am more likely to grumble about the current state of the world or my latest ailment. One could say that I’ve earned the right to grumble, because of the degree of pain and suffering I have experienced by virtue of being a sinful man living in a fallen world. The truth of the matter is that my grumbling has helped me realize a little of how self-focused I can be, and how much I dismiss the goodness of God. If the stars align according to my wishes, I feel strong and powerful and in control–and believe that God loves me. If they don’t…well, you can figure that one out.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has provided me with some helpful insight. She proposed that there are five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I’ve come to the conclusion that life is full of loss. I saw my dog get hit by the ice cream truck in front of our house when I was in elementary school. I didn’t have any category to put that experience in and I felt pretty wimpy for crying so much. One of my cousins died when I was a pre-teen. I didn’t know what to do but cry and feel pretty wimpy. As I think about it, though, I’ve experienced loss every time I was reminded that I am not God.
My flesh tantrums with the reality of my limitations and I try to regain some semblance of control. As I’ve been less able to “fake it until I make it”, I am forced to desperately cling to Jesus and acknowledge his Lordship. He is in control. I must die to myself moment-by-moment and accept my place as a redeemed creature/beloved child of the Most High King! As I submit myself to Him, I begin to learn how to embrace limitation and loss; for in them I learn of the grace and mercy of God and His beautiful redemptive narrative. I can rest in the Lord of the Sabbath and glorify Him by truly enjoying Him! I can see circumstances in light of God’s goodness and His ever advancing kingdom–and rest. Maybe that is what acceptance is all about–being reconciled to the truth of your story and choosing to glorify God in all things.