– Thomas Merton
Surrender to Him
The irony with God is that victory can only come when we surrender. That means we must resign as chairman of the board of our lives. We must make Him our commanding general. Total surrender is not possible without the Spirit’s enabling us. Even though we must all cry “wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death” (Romans 7:24), Paul doesn’t wait long to give us the only solution, which is to say, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25a), for it is through Him alone that victory comes (Acts 4:12).
Surrender to His Sovereignty
Like one man said, “God may send the storm, but He steers the ship,” and I know that’s true. God will take even the worst of circumstances and turn them into our good (Romans 8:28). It is simply amazing to think that He steers history according to His purpose. For example, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). What was God’s will for us? The Apostle Peter wrote that we “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9), “to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10). You were sovereignly chosen by God (Ephesians 1), and He never makes a mistake.
Surrender to Persecution
Did you know that we were actually called to suffer persecution? In fact, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). All means “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ.” If you don’t desire to live a godly life in Christ, then you won’t suffer any persecution, but you’ll miss out on blessings (Matthew 5:10-12). Yes, we are going to suffer for righteousness’ sake, as Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11), but we have to remember that the blessing may come later. So for now, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12).
Surrender to Sharing
Paul reminded the church at Corinth that just “as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Corinthians 1:5). Paul had good reason, though, and it was so “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10), and “if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:17).
I am not sure I’ve learned this, but the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer. But if your suffering makes you surrender to God, if your surrender to His sovereignty in your suffering, if you surrender to suffering persecution, and if you surrender to the fact that we’re called to share in Christ’s suffering, then you won’t try to avoid the suffering–you’ll simply see it from God’s point of view.