The Awful Word

May 4, 2022

I do believe; help my unbelief. Mark 9:24 NASB

Let’s face it. Surrender is a four-letter word to our culture. Okay, let’s get even more honest than that. Surrender is a bad word to us most of the time too. It’s not just those guys out there. In our world. It’s not surprising. Surrender describes giving up. It means you agree that you have lost the battle. It means you can’t beat the illness, right? No wonder we reject the idea of surrender. It makes us boil or break down.

But surrender is a key word and concept in God’s communication and relationship with us. Our relationship with God is not constructed by our control. Our relationship with God can only be based on this important fact: When I surrender to God’s will and way, it doesn’t always go the way I planned. People, finances, circumstances, health may all go differently than I desired and hoped. But God has made a big, big promise to the surrendered one: “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5 NKJV

My level of surrender accurately mirrors my trust in God. Not a single one of us would willingly surrender to someone we didn’t trust, including God. The truth is that my trust in God comes to a halt when lack of surrender begins. There is no “I really trust you, God, but not with this.” But surrender is both an event and a process. Mark 9 talks about a Roman who brought his very sick son to Jesus. When Jesus asked him if he believed, if he surrendered to Jesus on this, the man replied with deep honesty, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” It was a choice, an event, but to stay with it would require ongoing transformation. The same is true for us. Surrendering our expectations to God, expectations of Him and others, requires a decisive choice, but the process will be ongoing for the rest of our lives.

One of the reasons we reject surrender is because it feels like a weak decision. Far from that, surrender is the direct connection to strength. Paul said, “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 2:1). When we can’t control situations, when we can’t make our expectations deliver, we are facing weakness. We can double down in trying to assert more control, we can be resentful, we can hurt our relationships. Or we can surrender to God and discover His strength. When we do that, we find that our surrender brings freedom. Breaking free from our expectations through surrender is vital.

  • Imagine your unmet expectations and desires, your disappointments, in your hands. Call them out one by one and uncurl your hands, lifting them up to Jesus.