“I can’t take it anymore, God! Why aren’t you helping me?”
The weight of life squeezed out the last shred of belief that God cared about me. What looked like the end of my faith came in the form of a denial from my insurance company. I’d had noticed some developmental delays in my five-year old child. Once my concerns were confirmed, I sprung into mama bear mode, clawing, roaring and looking for the answers to save my precious cub. I learned about a diagnostic test that would provide the lifeline of information we needed. Yes! All of my tireless hard work was about to pay off.
When the coverage denial came a few weeks later, it felt like a bullet too close to my mama bear heart. I slumped on my kitchen floor, crying out, Why God? I’d prayed fervently for God to move the insurance company to approve that test. God must have seen how hard I’d worked to find a solution. All He had to do was move the insurance assessor to say yes. That disappointment turned into a tipping point in my faith. After years of being what I thought was a good Christian, I was disappointed that God didn’t answer my prayer. I wondered if faith was even worth it.
An uncomfortable a-ha moment surfaced when I realized that I’d been treating God like an employee in my problem-solving instead of letting Him lead. Instead of seeking God first before running around for answers, I figured out what I wanted to do and then I told God what I wanted Him to do.
My prayers were more about expecting God to finish my work instead of stopping to seek His will.
In my effort to control the situation, I lost sight of the power, character, and sovereignty of God. This verse is a powerful reminder that God isn’t like us and He doesn’t work like we do:
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)
Just as the people God spoke to in the above verse believed that following their own path was best, I’d done the same thing. They ended up in a bad place, and I did, too. My efforts to fix my problems didn’t bring me peace, only anxiety, anger, and what looked like the end of my faith. Yet, God’s words in Isaiah 55:8 are not only a declaration of God’s character, but also an invitation for those of us who’ve forgotten how big God truly is.
On that day on my kitchen floor, I uttered a new prayer that signified that I would remember that God was bigger than my biggest problems. It was a solid first step toward remembering that God was in control, and I was not:
“If it’s gonna get done, then God, You’re gonna have to do it.”
Years later, I’d come to realize that this was my first intentional act of surrender. Surrender isn’t a popular topic. Perhaps, because it’s often misunderstood. Surrender doesn’t mean that we’re giving in to hopelessness or defeat. Rather, surrender is giving over what we can’t control to God, who not only knows more than we do, but is bigger than we are and actually has control.
There’s a bonus: When we surrender, God will give us the gift of His peace.
Is there a problem or person that you need to surrender to God? It’s hard to admit that you are powerless, but it’s even harder to live with the fear and frustration of what you can’t control. If you need to take the first step, you can start with another simple Surrender Prayer: God, I can’t. But You can. So, I will let You.
There’s an interesting end to the story of the day I almost walked away from my faith: A few minutes after praying my surrender prayer, my phone rang. It was the administrative assistant from my child’s school who said, “Oh, I’m so glad that I got you. We wanted to let you know that you don’t need your insurance company to pay for your child’s test. There’s a fund at the school that pays for that kind of testing.” I hung up the phone in shock.
Of course, not every prayer is answered so quickly or in accordance with our desired outcome. But, as I reflect on God’s timing in answering that prayer, I believe He was saying to me, “Barb, if it’s gonna get done, I’m going to do it – and I don’t need your help.” In that gracious moment, God wanted me to be clear that He was bigger and more powerful than my biggest problem and I could trust Him.
Surrender doesn’t guarantee that God will answer instantly, nor does it mean that God will behave as you want. It does mean that you can trust God to be faithful, loving and gracious, no matter the outcome.