I was laying in bed the other night and expressing some frustration to God as I dozed off. “You know, everyone always talks about surrender so nicely and fervently. But what they never say is that surrender feels a lot like losing… and it sucks.” That was my prayer to God. No resolve. Just my felt truth.
When I think about surrender outside of the context of Christianity, I think of fighting and a person or team or group surrendering to the other. That action can be humiliating. A team forfeits a game, an army admits defeat in a battle, or a person gives up an argument with someone. It is embarrassing. It is emotional. Surrender is not pretty, nor easy, nor glorified in any way. Sometimes this notion of surrender is more what it feels like in relation to God.
Over the past weeks of COVID-19, I’ve spoken with friends and family who have canceled wedding celebrations, lost jobs, struggled with finances, won’t be able to walk at graduation, been alone, experienced loved ones passing away, and the list goes on. It is a grievous experience for all of us. I think of the seemingly cliché Christian notion of surrendering one’s life to God and right now it hurts a bit more than before. It is a good thing to surrender one’s relationship, wedding plans, job, family, friends, finances, etc. to God. But right now? It feels like loss. It causes a sense of grief.
Here, I think of Paul who wrote of grief during the loss of loved ones and encourages the Church saying: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thes. 4:13, NRSV, emphasis mine). The comfort in the grief of surrendering is that God does not leave us alone, without hope. We are met in relationship and offered hope in our trust because of His grace to us. We can surrender to God the grief of a postponed wedding or graduation celebration and feel the grief of the loss, knowing that He meets us in our grief. We can surrender the stress of financial burden that may be accompanied by applying for unemployment that you never anticipated having to apply for, God meets us in our humble state that we would have hope through relationship.
This grief is unique as it is contrasted to other options of emotional responses. For example, one could easily become purely bitter at God for not being able to see friends as one was used to or for losing the job you thought the Lord had provided for you. However, this is a self-focused reaction when it turns from God rather than to Him. God is continually inviting us to humility and surrender. A type of humility that can feel humiliating as one sends out announcements about a wedding ceremony that can not have all of the desired attendees. A type of surrender that feels like losing when one is laid off from their job. But in this state, we are met with the love, patience, and hope of the God who desires our whole lives. May we be humble enough to surrender them to Him. “For the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ have mercy on us and forgive us, that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your name. Amen” (BCP).
(Lindsay) Grace Bigler – Grace is a graduate student studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Apologetics. During the pandemic, she has entertained herself with too much school, talking with friends, and trying not get sunburned when she leaves her apartment to go on a walk.