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Someone described me as a realistic optimist. I am not exactly sure what that is or if it is an accurate assessment. Nevertheless I do believe that denying reality is not helpful but one does not have to be beaten down by it.

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Honestly facing realities that are unpleasant is the first step in amending circumstances, attitudes, or actions when things are not what you want them to be or how they should be.

Once you acknowledge that something is bad or wrong, you can begin to change some things for the better. On other occasions you must come to terms with the fact that you cannot always have what you want and you make proper preparations for future outcomes.

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But you say, I believe in miracles. I do too but I recognize that they don’t always occur when and where I want them to occur.

Recently I heard Phil and Dave Alvin sing “I believe this old world is in a bad condition.” I thought to myself, “Boy, they are right!” Accepting that reality does not lead me to be fatalistic or negative. Instead it helps me realize that there is work to be done. I believe that things don’t have to stay the way they are and I must do all I can to effect positive change. I must also be prepared to accept the limitations of being human. While there are some things I can change, there are many more that are beyond my ability.

Health issues, economic disasters, broken relationships, bigotry, war, famine, prejudice and a million other things may cause concern, but I cannot fix all the problems of my own life and I am definitely unable to change the whole world.

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You say, “But God can do anything.” I believe that, but I recognize that God does not correct all our mistakes or change all of our painful experiences. I have faith in God but God is not a genie that awaits my beck and call. I do not understand why some things are the way they are- both “good” and “bad” things. But I accept things as they are and trust God to work in mysterious and miraculous ways to make things right.  Or to give me the strength to make it through.

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When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace they said to King Neduchadnezzar, “Our God whom we serve is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not…” (Daniel 3:17-18)

John Sammis understood that everyone is subject to suffering and sorrow when he wrote:

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

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Inherent in the words of that hymn and in the words of the Hebrew Children is the understanding that things will not always be pleasant. The presence of adversity and difficulty is not an indication that God has abandoned us or that we lack faith. In fact, we can depend on God to be with us in all of the trials of life. Not always to extricate us from the problems but to be with us in them.

I am called to trust and obey. To do all that I can and leave the rest up to God. Often I simply have to accept that it is what it is and not lose faith regardless of the outcome.

Jamie Jenkins

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