There have been some big problems in my life recently. I fell ill about a year ago, and have got steadily worse. I went from being a healthy young woman, newly married, doing a job I adored, to being unable to walk without aid. Some days I can’t get out of the house at all.
This is obviously a problem, but things go deeper than experiencing being unwell. If I can’t go to work, how do we pay the bills? If I can’t leave the house won’t I get lonely? What about church; will I even be well enough to get there this week?
Suddenly, the problems started piling up into one great big mess, and it felt like I couldn’t fix any of it!
Then God spoke to me very clearly about problems I could and couldn’t solve, particularly through this prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
There are lots of things that, with a little courage, I can solve. If I’m feeling lonely I can ring a friend and encourage them. I’ve been regularly visiting another ill friend who has a little boy. I can offer to hold a friend’s new baby while they eat a peaceful lunch! If I can’t make it to church, I pray at home and listen to the talk online. I can text my community group to keep in the loop!
Yet I can only pick these problems from the muddle when I accept the problems I can’t solve. Jesus talks about carrying burdens in Matthew 11 v 28-29. He encourages his followers to exchange their burdens for His one, which is much lighter! When you lay your impossible burdens onto Jesus and leave the problem with him, your energy and capacity is free to change the things which God has put you into a position to change.