One thing I have found confusing at times during my walk of faith has been the concept of giving up. When you’re believing for God to do a specific thing, you often feel like you’ve gotten a lot of confirmation that He wants you to believe for that thing. To fight for it. To persevere in prayer. In general, that’s the right mode of operation for a Christian.
However, there is an exception to that general rule. When you’ve done all you know to do and it still doesn’t come to pass, there comes a point when you have to surrender. Recently, I was fighting in prayer and faith for something that was years in the making. Lots of things happened to make it look like it was coming to pass, but in the end, the blessing did not materialize.
In that moment, I felt the Lord telling me to crucify my flesh. In the process of believing for God to do this certain thing, I almost certainly had gotten to the point of making the “thing” into an idol. I wasn’t going to be okay until it happened.
So I responded to the Lord by getting practical. “Okay, Lord, how do I crucify the flesh? What does that look like? Can you give me some tangible action steps?”
In that moment, He pointed me to John 19:30.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.(John 19:30 NIV)
The last act of Jesus during His crucifixion was to bow his head and give up. He. Gave. Up. It’s not that Jesus was fighting against God’s will as He hung there on the cross. He wasn’t. But we know that this is not what Jesus personally wanted. Less than 24 hours earlier, He asked the Father three times to please give Him another way. There was no other way, and Jesus surrendered His will to the Father. He let His flesh be crucified and this went all the way to the point of death.
When the Lord gave me this revelation, I realized I had been here before. Two other times in my life, there was a major, life-changing thing that I spent months or years fighting and believing for. In both of those cases, the Lord had me give up. Here’s what so interesting about those two events.
They ended differently.
The first time was back in 2012. I was fighting for my wife to come back to me. For my marriage and family to be restored. We had both lived our lives apart from the Lord and there was a tremendous amount of damage to our relationship. She could not handle any more of the pain and she walked away. For whatever reason, the divorce dragged out and this afforded me the opportunity to spend 9 months crying out to the Lord all day, every single day for my wife to come back and my family to be restored. I cannot begin to describe the heartbreak and pain I felt during that time. Even though it looked completely hopeless in the natural, I was sure that God was going to step in to heal and restore our relationship.
In the end, it did not happen and our divorce was finalized in February of 2013. At that point, I realized there was nothing else to do except give up. It didn’t make any sense to me, as I had felt all along the way that God wanted me to believe Him for restoration.
Once I gave up, God began to heal me. I realized that I was okay without my wife. In fact, I began to see that I wasn’t just okay. A deep darkness that had hung over me for the previous 9 months was gone. All I had was Jesus, but I was thriving. God had not healed my marriage, but the light of God’s joy and peace and love had broken through and healed me personally. It was amazing.
About three weeks after I had surrendered and begun to experience God’s healing, He then moved in my wife’s heart. She surrendered everything to Him. We were quickly remarried, and we’ve been back together ever since—with more happiness, joy, love, and peace than we could have ever imagined. God moved to answer every single one of the prayers I prayed during that time, but He did not move at all until I gave up.
After that, I began to work, believe, and fight for another type of restoration in my life. I started a business and worked at it with all of my heart. I did my best to obey God and follow Him, and He certainly worked in and through the situation. The situation went on for several years, and there were so many supernatural confirmations for me to keep believing for breakthroughs and blessings in the business that I couldn’t even begin to list them. It’s still mind boggling to me when I look back on it. And many times, it looked like breakthrough was just around the corner or that it was even happening.
But in that situation, the blessing didn’t materialize, and God called on me to give up yet again. However, that situation did not end the same as the first. In that instance, God had a different plan for me. The thing I gave up was not the right thing for me. Instead, God called me into what I’m doing now.
Here’s what I can tell you about that second situation: I am extremely glad that God did not do what I was asking Him to do. Because out of those ashes, He called me into a new thing that has brought a joy and fulfillment I couldn’t have previously imagined.
When you give something up to God, He’s going to do the right thing. He’s either going to answer all of your prayers, or He’s going to lead you into something that’s even better. Giving up in this way really is an act of trust. You’re saying, “God, I set my desires down at Your feet. Take this situation and do what You see fit to do with it.” Don’t worry that giving up is somehow going to mess up God’s calling or destiny for your life. Thomas couldn’t mess up his calling and destiny by refusing to believe that Jesus had risen, and Peter couldn’t mess his up by denying Jesus. You’re not doing either of those things. You’re simply surrendering the situation to God.
Once you truly give up, you’ll be at peace. You’ll realize that you’re ultimately going to be okay whether He does it, or whether He does something different. But either way, you can trust that He will do what is best and right and good.
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