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And the Wisdom to Know the Difference

Posted on Apr 9, 2008 by in Blog, Faith | 0 comments

“God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”

–Reinhold Niebuhr

A few months ago I watched this: Dying Professor Gives Last Lecture. Tonight, I’m watching the Diane Sawyer interview of Randy and Jai Pausch, and I’m crying my eyes out, much like I did during that lecture. It’s another reminder that in this life, the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. So sad, this story, so incredibly unfair. And it begs the question, as these sorts of stories always do, “How could a God of love let something like this happen?”

We’d like for life to be wrapped up in a neat little package and topped with a pretty bow. No loose ends, no dangling participles, just an easy, simple, straightforward existence where Good was rewarded and Bad was punished and everyone knew what to expect. Life, as we all know, is not that way. So very often, the Good are saddled with tragedy while those who lead less than stellar lives reap reward after reward.

But what if in those moments when the life begins to unravel we made the decision to be defined not by our circumstances, but by our character? How would that change us? How would that change the world around us? If we chose gratitude in moments of heartache, life in moments of peril, what kind of difference would that make?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, situations like Randy Pausch’s ultimately point us to God because they remind us that this is not how life should be. Something is horribly horribly wrong with this. It’s not right, it’s not fair. This man should live to walk his daughter down the aisle. This man should live to help his sons with their algebra homework. This man should celebrate 50 years of marriage with his wife. But he won’t. What he will do is live out the rest of his life with gratitude. Not resentment toward the hand life dealt him. Not bitterness or anger or depression, but gratitude. Gratitude for the time given to him.

Tomorow is not promised to any of us. Good and Bad things will happen to Good and Bad people. This life is a bit of a crapshoot. But as for me, I choose to believe that there is a Creator of all things who loves me and who chose me to be his friend and daughter before the foundation of the earth was laid. I choose to believe that He wants to be chosen by me in each and every moment as much as I need to be chosen by Him. I choose to be grateful for every abundant blessing I have, because I choose to recognize that they all come from God.

Everybody has a choice. Will you choose death, or will you, like Randy Pausch, choose life?

“Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships 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.”


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