On this 20th day of lent, tell us: how are you experiencing God’s goodness in the surrendering?
As we shared on Ash Wednesday, these forty days are not just a “grin and bear it” or “pray harder” season. These forty days represent an opportunity to build a life of abiding and developing the posture of surrendering that forges our relationship with Christ every day.
Practically speaking, these last 20 days may have been easy, hard or, honestly, you may have completely forgotten about your intentions. But it’s important to remember that behavior change is not the goal here. Resting in the hope of the life that is to come as we surrender to God is the end pursuit. So let’s encourage one another with a look at Christ’s model of surrender—and all that it can have in store for us.
At first pass, when we think of Good Friday and Easter, it’s hard to ignore the hard parts, where Jesus’ surrender brought Him to the cross. He even protested it, asking the Father if this “cup” could be taken from Him. Most of us may not be able to relate with the end result of death; but there are times in surrender that the final destination, if not the journey to get there, is pretty painful.
But here’s the key: He endured because of the joy that was set before Him. (Hebrews 12:2)
For years before His death, Jesus’ surrendered life led Him through ministry that fulfilled the very promises God made for His life and the lives of those He interacted with. His commitment to do what the Father told Him to do meant He experienced the joys and sorrows of being human. Every moment brought an opportunity to rely on the Father for guidance, maintaining likeness of mind and heart.
This ministry brought trial in surrender. He was tempted, betrayed, endured physical pain, and faced emotional strife. Through our human lens, the goodness of this story doesn’t jump out at us right away. And at times in life, it feels the same for our story. Surrender may feel harsh, silent, confusing, or unfair. It may feel like He is disciplining us so we might better understand how we can live to experience the life He has for us. It may mean dealing with the consequences of sin, spiritual opposition, or the enemy leading us in a wrong direction.
In those times—which are possibly happening even as you read this—be reminded of Peter’s words: “. . . after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)
This is the kind of surrender God has for us. Relationship building. Trust forming. Joy producing. And even a renewing rest in trials.
So, what is God leading you through in these twenty days so far? What are you expectant for Him to bring you through today and in the coming few weeks? Whether it’s good or hard or silent, talk to Him about that. And listen for His response . . . what is He saying through scripture, through circumstances, through your community? These questions might help you and your family reflect together:
- Where has God been present, active, vocal, or otherwise a part of my 20 days of surrender so far?
- How is He using those interactions to demonstrate His goodness to me? Either assuring me or challenging me?
- Where am I still relying on myself rather than surrendering to God?
- What can I do (or not do) in these next 20 days to continue to live in that goodness?
In the meantime, we leave you with a few verses for the few weeks left in Lent.
Romans 5:3-5 encourages us toward hope through perseverance.
Psalm 22 takes us to remember God’s hand in life even when He feels far off.
Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us of God’s wisdom.
And the story of Joseph and his brothers, in Genesis 50, casts a purposeful light of God’s goodness through what feels unfair.
As we move toward Easter, we are closer to celebrating the great surrender of forgiveness, and we will talk about that during Easter week. There is purpose in being called through this life with open hands. We’re with you in these next 20 days of focus on surrender.