Many are familiar with the “Serenity Prayer” written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr many years ago. Although it has endured certain changes over time, the modern presentation goes something like this:
“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.”
This prayer is used in AA meetings and is plastered on home decor throughout our nation simply because we must constantly be reminded of an important truth: there are situations and circumstances that we cannot change—No matter how much we like to think otherwise. More often than not, those items we wish to alter are deterred by human will. We want someone to change for the better, but they simply aren’t willing. Why can’t they see the destructive path they travel? Can’t they see how much they hurt those around them? Don’t they care? Many parents, spouses, and children stay awake at night asking these very questions.
While we can’t pass judgment on any particular situation without knowing the specifics, we all realize there comes a point—if we hope to live a happy and whole life—that we must move on.
The Psalmist recognized this as well in Psalm 37:
“Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.”
Don’t allow your anxiety over the evils of your neighbor to consume the happiness the Lord has to offer. Live your life honoring God, and the Lord will take care of the wicked in his own time. Inevitably the righteous will inherit the land; even if the wicked currently prosper.
Of course, this is easier said than done. It doesn’t mean that we will be unaffected by evil, or that good will triumph in the present moment—but it will triumph in the end. God’s eternal decree is that evil will be inevitably conquered and righteousness will forever reign.
Because of this, it is futile to allow our private world to be constantly concerned with the actions of the wicked. Yes, they will prosper for a time, but their time is coming. Worrying over it now is like concerning ourselves with our team fumbling the football when we already know they win the game. The middle of the game matters, but only as it relates to the end.
With this in mind, refuse to let fear of your fellowman’s iniquity drive you from the genuinely good life God offers us. Trust in the Lord, and wait on him to act.