The universal signal of surrender is waving a white flag, at least in battle. To those waving the white flag, it signifies a defeat, a failure to achieve a goal. In our spiritual battles, we are often encouraged to “surrender” to the will of God. In doing so, are we admitting defeat? Have we failed spiritually?
When we battle God, we are fighting so that our will be done, not His. Our actions reflect what we want. Sometimes it comes very easy and other times we wonder why we are struggling so hard. It may be a very simple thing that we want, but it feels like dozens of obstacles are in our way. If we wave our white flag in surrender and “let go and let God” as the saying goes, we may fail to achieve our will. But is that so bad? In this world our vision is limited to the moment; God sees our whole life. We think we can control our lives, but in reality, we can only control our response in the moment.
In this case, one easily made mistake is to think of surrender as giving up. If we do and feel we cannot control our lives then we just accept whatever comes our way in a passive, reactive mentality. Surrendering in this sense is not surrendering to God’s will and does not draw us any closer to Him. It also leaves us barren from accepting and acknowledging His tender care.
Surrendering to God’s will is a proactive choice that we make. “Your heavenly Father knows all that you need. Seek first his kingship over you, his way of holiness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Mt: 6:32-33) Sometimes His will is to allow difficulties in our lives. In accepting these difficulties, we choose to fight against complaining, self-pity and anger. If God has allowed us to be challenged, then we must lean on Him for support and strength. We offer our prayers and sufferings to Jesus, who adds them to His Passion. We use the opportunity to draw closer to Him.
If we give up, we also give up on God. We may not understand why trying experiences are in our life. However, if we surrender to God’s will by seeking it out, our gain is a closer relationship with God. “If God can clothe in such splendor the grass of the field, which blooms today and is thrown on the fire tomorrow, will he not provide much more for you.” (Mt 6:30)