Most of us have been in that place where something happens in our lives that we don’t like. It could be an illness or a job loss, a wayward child or a car accident. Sometimes even a pile of little annoyances build up and weigh heavy on our hearts.
In moments like those, I’ve heard more than one woman say she was resigned to God’s will. While I understand the sentiment, I wonder. Is that really what we should be? Resigned?
God’s plans for your life far exceed the circumstances of your day. ~
Before we get too far into this discussion, we need to make sure we’re starting in the same place. What does resigned mean?
Dictionary.com says the word is an adjective (describes a noun) that means,
- submissive or acquiescent;
- characterized by or indicative of resignation.”
To follow that, the website defines resignation (a noun) as, “an accepting, unresisting attitude, state, etc.; submission; acquiescence.”
Anyone have problems with any of that? It seems, at first glance, to be okay. Without thinking too deeply, I’d probably agree that we should resign ourselves to God’s will.
But . . .
Let’s go a little deeper.
Trust me for a moment, and let’s think a little deeper. Not too much, I promise. But let’s consider one additional word, and I think you’ll understand why this is important.
Sometimes I hear people say they’ve accepted God’s will. Seems to be similar to ‘resigned to God’s will,’ right? Acceptance is even part of the definition of resignation.
But the feel of the two words is different. Very different. Let’s look at why.
Staying with the same website, dictionary.com says accept is a verb. When used in conjunction with an object (like God’s will), it means:
- to take or receive (something offered); receive with approval or favor;
- to agree or consent to; accede to;
- to respond or answer affirmatively to;
- to undertake the responsibility, duties, honors, etc., of;
- to receive or admit formally, as to a college or club.
Resigned to God’s will? Or accepting God’s will?
See the subtle difference? While resigning yourself to God’s will means you submit to it, acceptance means you agree with it. Resignation could be a suppression of your will, but acceptance chooses to mold your will to agree with God.
It’s the difference between saying, “I can’t change your mind, God, so I’ll take what You allow,” versus, “God, I trust You.”
A Quick Look at Abraham
Do we see any evidence of either resignation or acceptance in the Bible? Well, yes, but it’s not easy to see unless you look for it in their actions and attitudes.
For example, remember when God told Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac (Genesis 22)? This was the son of God’s blessing to Abraham in his old age, the one through whom the whole world would be blessed. Yet God’s instructions were clear, Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you (verse 2).
The Bible doesn’t tell us Abraham’s thoughts at this point. It doesn’t mention a restless night or infer any hint of sadness. It just says that he got up the next morning to obey. I do find two things revealing, though. The first and most easy to see is that fact that Isaac, who would have been a young man at this point, never fights his father. He allows Abraham to tie him up and lay him down on the altar.
But go back just a couple of verses and see what Abraham says to his servants. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back” (verse 5). We will come right back.
Think about it.
Would a man who was resigned to God’s will have the confident belief to tell his servants that he would be right back with his son?
Even if we assume Abraham was lying to his servants so he wouldn’t have to deal with them before walking off with Isaac, what did Abraham say to Isaac as he tied him up? A deflated, “This is what God said, son”? Or a hopeful, “I don’t know what God is doing, but He promised that you are my future.”
God’s heavenly plan doesn’t always make earthly sense. ~
Perhaps that sums up the difference between resignation and acceptance: hope. And maybe it reveals to us how much we trust God.
Author Julie Lessman wrote in her fiction book Surprised by Love, “Acceptance opens the door of hope wide, while resignation slams it shut. One says God is good and loves us, and the other says He is harsh and doesn’t care. . . . ‘Acceptance’ promises that God will bless our obedience with a greater good. ‘Resignation,’ however, can sever our relationship with God, which leaves us on our own, resulting in darkness and despair.”
So what’s it going to be? It’s a decision, a conscious choice, and you are the only one who gets to cast a vote for yourself. Are you resigned to God’s will, or will you accept it?
You may not believe it, but I faced the battle between resignation and acceptance. In fact, I document a lot of my journey in my book Living in the Shadow of Death.
Does a good God allow loss and send pain? How can that lurking feeling of dread for tomorrow be part of abundant life with Christ?
Grief hits us unexpectedly. A job loss, a failed relationship, a health crisis, an unexpected move, a rebellious teen, and other difficult circumstances force themselves upon us, demanding our attention. Fear, insecurity, and loneliness intimidate us into quiet submission and attempt to dictate our choices.
But what if we could shove them out our front door?
With loving concern and unyielding devotion for those facing a loss they never imagined, Carrie opens up her heart to reveal the biblical truths she’s learned through the heart-wrenching turbulence in her own life. She answers questions many Christians struggle with but dare not admit:
- Is God really good?
- Does the presence of pain and loss cancel out the abundant life promised to us?
- How can we follow God when life seems to only bring heartache?
- Is He even trustworthy?
If these are your questions, take heart! Within these pages, Carrie shares some of her very unchristian-like doubts and how she developed an intense faith and abiding trust even while Living in the Shadow of Death.