When some say, “Just surrender it to the Lord!” when we share about the pain and anxiety we are struggling with in our lives it may seem like a cliché.
Maybe you are suffering from a broken heart, maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend cheated on you. Or maybe a trusted friend or relative has stabbed you in the back so to speak. The pain is raw and deep and you don’t want any pain or bitterness to consume you.
Another scenario is that you could be anxious about exam results, your situation at work or you are afflicted healthwise. How can you really surrender these situations to the Lord?
Sometimes we do not want to surrender because we feel unworthy of God’s love or feel we are doing too many mistakes in life. Maybe we feel that surrendering is too hard, and takes too much time and effort. Or maybe we are afraid of suffering.
Is there a magic formula one can use? How can one be sure that they have surrendered the problem, situation and pain to the Lord?
Sacred Scripture speaks of the importance of self- surrender. “Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Do not be preoccupied with an evildoer who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes.” Psalm 37:7-9
No, there is no magic formula. God is merely looking for the attitude of one’s heart. While it’s easy to say to Jesus, “Help me to trust in you” it’s so important and even harder to be more thorough.
It’s important to be real with the Lord. Pour out your heart to Him and so share what you are feeling to Him. Then say, “God, I have tried to deal with this, but I can’t do so anymore. I need your help. I need your strength. I need your grace. I place it at the foot of your cross. Please take this situation and use it for your glory.”
Sacred Scripture also says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Surrendering to the Lord does not mean that the pain will evaporate instantly, although it could. It is often a process, even a long process. Therefore sadly it doesn’t mean it will be a quick fix. You might also have to keep surrendering the situation if you feel that you have given it to the Lord with one hand and then later taken it back with the other.
As Catholics we have the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is also known as the Sacrament of Penance or Confession. In this sacrament we can surrender everything to the Lord. We thank God for his blessings and we confess where we have failed in our walk with the Lord. Scripture says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
Through the healing power of Christ in this sacrament we are in fact spiritually healed and become 100% pure spiritually. We can chose to let go of our past and leave the hurts there, or we can take the pain away and let it slowly or quickly eat us up. Overcoming the pain will most likely still take a lot of work, including positive thinking. Our brains love to think negative thoughts. But we need to train ourselves to be positive. That will lead us to be people of hope and people who trust in a God who has the best plan in store for us.
I know what it’s like to be over anxious. As I recount in “Worth Chasing” which is the 2nd part of the book I co-authored with my wife Elly, “Worth the Chase: Finding Love God’s Way” I have experienced the struggle of having my heart broken, seemingly into a million pieces. At the time I didn’t know how I would be able to bounce back. I even wondered if I would ever have the confidence to date again. It was a long process, in which I even thought God would bring her back to me. Yet, for about two to three years I had to keep on surrendering to the Lord, even when I thought I had stealthily taken it back from the Lord.
We can’t keep anything from God. When we take the pain back we cheat ourselves and we cheat trusting in such a loving God. God’s plan was perfect. Trusting in Him led me on two missions to the Philippines. The 2nd trip resulted in meeting my wife in an adoration chapel. My trust was not absolute. I tried doing it my way, by meeting women through dating sites. While I prayed for my future wife, for God to protect her and prepare her for me, I also kept hunting for her (different women) like a wild game hunter. Ok I didn’t kill anyone, but I got impatient with waiting on God. Yet, He has the master plan for our lives: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. There is also my other favorite verse from Jeremiah: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you of a wonderful plan I have in store for you.” (Jeremiah 33:3).
As my wife shares in Worth the Chase, she felt God give her a love letter for women in which He says: “Surrender your whole life to me. Let me take care of your heart. I will never break it. I will handle it with total care. Your heart may be calloused and full of scars now, yet when you surrender it to me completely, I will make it new...”
When I asked God for a love letter addressed to men, which I included in “Worth Chasing”, a couple of days later He replied: “...Seek me with your whole heart and you will be surprised. You will not be disappointed. Trust in my wonderful plan for you. Give me your dreams, your heart’s desires, your regrets, your pain, your fears. I want to transform them so that you can image me and be who you are called to be. It is only through surrendering these, all of you, that you will be fully alive. I want to give you joy that the world cannot give. My joy lasts, even amidst your greatest struggles....”
Then relating to surrendering our all He says: “My son, submit to the calling I place on your life. Trust in my wonderful plan for you. Together we can change the world. Will you surrender everything, all you are, to me and allow me to transform you into a beautiful diamond as a gift for yourself and others? You were raw rock and you can be a priceless diamond. The choice is yours. Hold onto your life or give it completely to me.”
To conclude let me share a story from a homily I heard. A little boy was really afraid of rivers. He wanted to cross a bridge but wouldn’t dare cross because of his fear. When he went near the bridge his legs began trembling and he became short of breath. God appeared to Him, encouraged him to cross the bridge. The little boy asked God if he could hold His hand. When God said no, the boy was deeply sad that God didn’t want to hold his hand. “Why won’t you let me hold your hand?” the boy asked?
“Because I want to hold your hand.” God answered him.
“But what’s the difference?”
“In the storms of life you might become afraid, forget that you are holding my hand and let go and hurt yourself. But if I’m holding your hand I will never let go of your hand. I will never forget you.”
Indeed God will never forget you. He has a plan for you that you most likely have never dreamed of. That plan will lead you closer and closer to being that beautiful image of God, closer to holiness and thus heaven. Like an athlete or musician we have to keep focused and shed even blood, sweat and tears, in fact our all, in order to deepen our relationship with Jesus and our love for others. We are called to be living images of God in a world that is often hostile to God’s ways.
When we feel that our pain makes God so distant, remember He is closer than we think:
Where Is God?
© Brendan Roberts
Oh the pain is tormenting;
The anguish too much to bare;
I felt so alone;
Why was someone so dear to me
I needed them so;
There was so much I wanted to say.
Now there is only an empty chasm;
Pain raking my heart;
Who really understands me?
Who really cares?
So where is God?
This God of love?
My child, stop and listen;
I care, I am within you.
© Brendan Roberts
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brendan Roberts is an author of 6 books, speaker, missionary, and lay theologian. He shares his deep knowledge of the faith as well as his many experiences in life, including traveling the world in answer to God's call to share the Gospel. His writing style is down to earth, full of witty humor while bringing alive faith, everyday experiences, and Theology.
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