Facing The Fear And Counting The Cost

This is part 3 of a study looking at the book “Anything” by Jennie Allen.  Click here for part 1, here for part 2 or here for an index of all my posts on the topic of Surrender.

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Surrendering everything to God is scary.  When God led me to the word “surrender” for this year it wasn’t a word that I wanted because I was scared about what it would involve.  This section of the book explores the fear that is often stirred by the idea of surrender, and the high cost involved in surrendering completely to God.

We all have a plan of how we would like our lives to turn out.  It might involve marriage, children, a career or success in a particular area.  But what if God’s plan for us involves illness, singleness, infertility, financial hardship or other suffering?  As Jennie Allen puts it, “We would all say his character is loving and good, but do we really trust that he won’t get crazy and dish out the same life he gave Job?”

This is definitely one of the barriers to surrender that I struggle with the most, but as I have been reading and reflecting this week I have found three ways to deal with it:

  • Focussing not on the seen but on the unseen: remembering that God’s ways are higher than ours, he has a plan to work all things together for good no matter how it may appear on the surface and this life is only temporary.  “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them all and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”  (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
  • Remembering that God has a purpose in our suffering and can use it for good.  Jennie Allen writes, “You have to thank God for the seemingly good and the seemingly bad because really, you don’t know the difference.”  Certainly as I look back over my life it has been the times of suffering that have drawn me closer to God.  I would never have chosen for these things to happen, and there were times that were horribly difficult and painful, but, looking back, God has undoubtedly brought a lot of good from them.  That has to give me hope for hard times I will face in the future.
  • Recognising that suffering is a part of life, whether we choose to surrender or not.  “God builds our lives whether we give him permission or not.  It is the fight for control that has us all tied up, while it’s really an illusion anyway.  We control because we are afraid of what may happen if we let go.  Do we really think we are better captains of our lives than a God who sees everything and deeply loves us?”  Refusing to surrender to God does not excuse us from suffering.  All it does is make the suffering harder to deal with.

As well as facing our fears, we also have to consider the high cost of surrendering to God.  Jesus said, “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”  (Luke 14:33)

I have to be honest- I looked that up in several different translations in the hope that maybe it doesn’t really mean what it seems to say here…  I discovered that it does.

God wants us to give up everything else and put him first.  Actually it’s what he requires if we are to be his followers.  He wants us to seek his glory over our own comfort, to lay aside our plans and desires and embrace his, to take up our cross and to follow him.

That is a hard calling.

It reassures me that Jesus found it hard too.  In the Garden of Gethsemane he is described as “anguished and distressed” (Matthew 26:37) and it says he “bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father!  If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.  Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”  (v39)  He struggled with giving up his own desires, but in the end he submitted to his Father’s will.

And the result was great, and the suffering was worth it.  “When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.  And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.”  (Isaiah 53:11)

When God is asking me to do something hard, one of the ways that I often know it is him is that the only thing greater than the fear of doing it is the fear of not doing it, and disobeying him or missing out on what he wants me to do.

That is how I feel about the idea of surrender.  I am scared at the thought of giving up everything for God, but I am more scared of the thought that I could waste my life- that I could have a nice, happy, comfortable life but miss out on all that he has for me.

At the end of the day, I would like to think my life had counted for something, that I had done something of lasting value, that I had done something worthwhile for God… and that is only possible through surrender.

>      purposefulfaith.com        Holly Barrett

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21 thoughts on “Facing The Fear And Counting The Cost

  1. Your words that suffering is part of life whether we surrender to God or not was sobering. I’ve been thinking about suffering. Adversity is real and sure but can suffering be optional? Is there a righteous suffering? I am not content with the answers I am throwing around.

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    1. Interesting questions. I think suffering is an area where we’re never going to have all the answers.
      I think in some situations suffering can be optional, e.g. Jesus choosing to go to the cross and embrace the suffering that involved, or if we do something or speak out about something, knowing it will mean opposition or persecution from others (but choose to do it anyway because we believe God is telling us to.)
      I don’t think choosing not to means we avoid suffering though. It might seem like we are at the time but it might lead to other suffering later on.
      And then there’s just the suffering we all experience which we don’t have a choice about and usually don’t understand… I think we just have to hold on to the fact that God works all things together for good, even things that don’t seem good at all.

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  2. This paragraph sets surrender in the face of reality, doesn’t it? —> “That is how I feel about the idea of surrender. I am scared at the thought of giving up everything for God, but I am more scared of the thought that I could waste my life- that I could have a nice, happy, comfortable life but miss out on all that he has for me.” Running the race alongside you, Carly, surrendering to. To God be the glory. May our lives & words matter for His purpose.

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  3. So much of what you’ve written here resonates deeply with me, Carly. Especially this:
    “When God is asking me to do something hard, one of the ways that I often know it is him is that the only thing greater than the fear of doing it is the fear of not doing it, and disobeying him or missing out on what he wants me to do.” You are so right about surrender … we can only accomplish anything of value if we exchange our will for his. I’m so glad to be your neighbor at #TellHisStory today …

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  4. Hi Carly!
    I very much enjoyed this review of the book, but I enjoyed even more your own journey in dealing with fear and surrender. Your points are well-taken and right on the mark. It was great to visit as your neighbor at the Tell His Story linkup today. Blessings on your day and week!
    Pam

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  5. Carly, Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post with such humility and grace.

    I too struggle with surrender because it frightens me. There were so many points in your post that convicted me. I confess that I am not sure I ever got to the point of getting out of the way of self to be more fearful of disappointing God, but would instead justify in my head why “I must have what God wants me to do wrong…”

    One of the verses that encourages me when I need to do a hard thing is Hebrews 12:2 ” looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” The joy set before Him… Those who are in Christ have that same joy set before them. O what hope that gives us.

    I was so blessed to visit here today.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Karen. I have also had times where I’ve managed to persuade myself I’m wrong about what I think God wants me to do.
      Thanks for sharing that verse. The more I look into surrender, the more I see it’s about where our focus is, and if we can keep our eyes on Jesus that definitely helps. It is encouraging to think of the joy set before us.

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  6. Wow, those are some strong words. Tough words. It makes me think of the times I’ve heard Joyce Meyer sing–as we really should–“I surrender some.” Surrendering ALL is very, very difficult. Thank you for tackling this “hard calling.”

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    1. Jesus’ words and the call to surrender all are tough and reading this book is challenging me a lot. So true that “I surrender some” would be a more honest version of the song a lot of the time. Thanks for visiting.

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  7. “Suffering is a part of life, whether we choose to surrender or not.” Yes and yes. Wonderful points here. Praising the Lord that He is trustworthy with all that we give Him. He’s never misplaced anything. Blessings! #TellHisStory

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  8. Surrender is a powerful word but I love how you are embracing it in the midst of how it will look for your life. God has the plan and it is always good but it is scary to think that we could lead a life like Job. These words really spoke to me today… “When God is asking me to do something hard, one of the ways that I often know it is him is that the only thing greater than the fear of doing it is the fear of not doing it, and disobeying him or missing out on what he wants me to do.” That is truth! Thank you for sharing such truth and how God’s word backs it up. Blessings!

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  9. I have been reading this book recently, too. It has shaken me up with the question, “Will I give up anything? Can I give up everything?” Your response to this chapter is transparently refreshing.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Blessings,
    Dawn

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