It Is What It Is

Rev. Dr. Cecelia A. Walker
Princeton Baptist Medical Center

"For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:11-14 NKJV) 

Have you ever felt guilty for admitting that you are disappointed with how something has happened in your life? Perhaps you have dealt with the death of a loved one, a divorce or a disease and you find yourself heart-broken and out of control. There are times in my ministry that I journey with people as they try to cope with the challenges and complexities of life who begin to compare their situations to those of others. These hurting people often remark: “I am so ashamed to be complaining because so many have it much worse than I have it”. Some even remark that they feel that God is not pleased with them because they are sad about their situations. At those times it is important for me to really listen and allow the person to share their pain. Those are very intimate moments. As we continue the conversation however, I always try to help them to appreciate that comparing their pain to another’s does not negate the validity of their distress. I applaud them for being honest about how they are feeling, encourage them to give themselves permission to be where they are and affirm that “it is what it is”.  

In a short story written by Claire Dederer, the narrator tells a story about watching a woman fall out of a pose in a yoga class. As the story continues the reader discovers that the woman who falls is blind. Note: as I understand it one of the secrets to keeping balance in yoga is being able to focus on a point in the near distance. Two details stand out for me in the story: First, the woman has a companion who is there to help if/when she falls and secondly the blind woman’s light hearted acceptance of the learning process which is located in her response after falling: “It is what it is”. 

Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” It is not wrong to acknowledge that death, disease, divorce and other maladies are not what we have prayed for, worked for and dreamed of. It is appropriate to become sad when sad things happen in our lives. Life is often filled with swift transitions that knock us down. We can be on top of the world in one moment and in the next feel that the world is on top of us. The real challenge is not that difficult times come, but how do we steady ourselves during those times. God, our Present Companion in times of trouble is always there. We can honestly and boldly confess our struggles to Him. He understands. He knows our frame and His love for us is infinite and eternal. 

Prayer: “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.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

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