Courage in the Moment   Leave a comment

My focus is on Reinhold Niebuhr’s poem, not on the man himself, though I may get back to him in the future as I still have nearly 30 more posts on courage ahead of me.

GOD, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in
the next.


A lot of people know the first two versus, but I believe you miss out on something if you don’t know the whole of Niebuhr’s thoughts.

There’s a lot to be said for accepting the things you cannot change. There are many things in this world that are beyond our control and when we spend our energy tilting at windmills, we make it unnecessarily hard on ourselves. Serenity is what makes it possible for a loving mother who wants what is best for her daughter to accept that her daughter is a gypsy bluegrass musician for this space of time and there is NOTHING I can do to change it. In some ways, there is relief in that because the consequences for her choices become hers rather than mine.

The courage to change what can be changed is a hard one for many people. Far too often, we will repeatedly flail away at what we cannot change but flinch when it comes to the things we do have some control over. Why? I don’t know, but I saw it so often in the clients when I worked in mental health. They’d try to control the people around them without ever considering changing their own behavior.

That’s where wisdom comes in. The wisdom to know the difference requires that we live through some bad times and make some wrong decisions. This is the pathway to peace, as Niebuhr points out. Hardship teaches us valuable lessons that we would never learn if we lived hip-deep in clover. Hardship is easier to face courageously when you view it as simply for today. If you view it as something clinging to you from birth and going on into eternity, it’s a whole lot harder to be brave.

Jesus didn’t sugar coat the world and we shouldn’t either. We know this world is bent and there is no way to walk through it without getting some of its muck on your shoes. But, God works all things to good for those who accept His will, and understand that perfect happiness will never happen in this world, but will be granted in the next.

I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the LORD your God, am with you in all you do.” Joshua 1:9

I don’t think I could face this life with as much bravery as I do if I didn’t know that God is with me in all that I do.

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