Ever watch Seinfeld? This video is a few excerpts from the episode where George's father, Frank Costanza, uses a relaxation technique where he is instructed to say "Serenity Now" whenever he experiences a stressful situation. Of course, being a New Yorker of the nth degree, Frank totally screws it up by continually screaming the phrase instead of saying it in a soothing/relaxing manner - quite funny. Years ago I learned the Serenity Prayer. It goes like this:
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.
Ever pray this prayer? It is a teaching in and of itself. There are seven words in it that are significant in and of themselves:
God: The first word in this prayer is foundational to all of the other words. The Westminster Catechism defines God as a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. In Colossians Jesus is called the image of the invisible God ... in Jesus, God is personal.
Serenity: Synonyms are calmness, tranquility, peacefulness, quietness and unclouded-ness. Colossians also tells us to "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Serenity is something that we choose though prayer ... it is something that God will grant when we ask Him. Part of serenity is being at peace with God and with others. Thankfulness is key to a serene attitude.
Accept: The night before he would die a horrible death on a cross Jesus Christ knelt to pray in the garden of Gethsemane. Seeing that the cup of death was near, Jesus prayed "Father, if you are willing take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done". After that prayer of acceptance in the garden ... accepting the fate of three nails and a cross ... we find that Jesus moved with much strength through a time of great suffering and trial. Our lesson ... trust is only trust when it involves acceptance of things that we don't understand and cannot change.
Change: For a believer this is one of the most beautiful words in our language. It encompasses repentance, maturity and righteousness. Yet somehow I find myself wanting everything to change but me. You know, we need to change ... we need to be like Jesus and that requires change of the highest degree.
Courage: The dictionary says that this is the ability to meet danger or opposition with fearlessness, calmness and firmness. The apostle Paul put it this way in Philippians "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." Sometimes courage requires us to say NO to fleshly desires ... sometimes it requires us to say YES to the wooing and urging of the Holy Spirit.
Wisdom: Discernment, judgment or simply uncommon sense ... any way you say it true wisdom can only come from God. Like serenity, wisdom often comes through patience and experience. It often comes from other people who have “been there” before. The book of James says that "the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."
Know: There are people today that say you cannot 'know' spiritual things. The scripture says in 1 Corinthians that "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned". The heart of knowing is prayer and our relationship with God the Holy Spirit. Faith is the key to knowing ... knowing God leads us in paths of serenity and courage.