I remember being six or seven years old and not fully understanding the depth or meaning of the words, but I knew there was something special about the hymn, I Surrender All Listen here. In its lyrics, there was a sense that we could get to a point of giving all that we have to Jesus and being filled with peace in our hearts, regardless of circumstances. I hadn’t heard this hymn in many years, but I was pleasantly reminded of it recently. Especially when we cannot fathom everything going on in our societies and world right now, it seems all the more appropriate to keep trying to give up our plans, thoughts, desires, and struggles to God, inviting the Holy Spirit to be with us daily.
Amidst the UK’s third lockdown and six weeks into homeschooling, my daily life has felt like quite a struggle at times. The beginning of February is marked by cold, damp weather, bare trees, and the coronavirus pandemic has brought a bleak time for all in a variety of ways. My children frequently lack the motivation to keep up with the school schedule at home, while missing some of their friends that are still in attendance as children of key workers. The Monday to Friday schedule often feels like I am pulling their teeth to complete school work promptly, while trying to ensure that they have a good play and can switch off from school mode in the afternoons. Even within myself, a tidal wave of emotions can overwhelm me as I juggle the roles of wife, mother, and now teacher.
There’s a strange struggle that goes on within me for I know that as a Christian, I should strive towards having an attitude of gratefulness and not just complaining. By just reading the news headlines, I am aware that many others have situations far worse than mine. Eventually, guilt kicks in because I’m beating myself up for feeling the way I do. But is it wrong to acknowledge my feelings? Although I am following Christ, my life is certainly not always filled with positivity and optimism.
I think the key element to remember is that God loves ALL people. He doesn’t just care about one and not the other. The Bible talks about God caring for us more than the birds of the air and knowing the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). That truth should help us to understand that whatever we are going through is important to our heavenly Father. We can stop the comparison with others, dwelling in feelings of guilt, and focus on God caring about the needs of every person, including ourselves. God accepts us fully through Jesus, our hearts and real emotions.
Another matter of importance is accepting that life is often out of our control. For example in a lockdown, it can be difficult to accept that certain freedoms like going to a restaurant or gathering with friends, have now been temporarily taken away from us. Despite the disruption and disappointment, we can find peace, comfort, and strength if we start to look at our situations in kingdom perspective. Any earthly hardships we face have already been overcome by Jesus (John 16:33).
It is absolutely okay to admit that this season is really hard, because it is. Yet we can humbly choose to give up our circumstances, our feelings, our everything, and give in to letting God be in control of our lives. Surrendering all means we can exchange our hardships for God’s comfort, peace, hope, and eventually gladness.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.John 16:33
One of our school values is wisdom, so for a recent lesson, my son and I coloured in a wall of bricks on paper. Then, I thought of a few familiar words of wisdom and helped write them down for Luke, who’s only four. It was actually a very therapeutic exercise for me to be reminded of these special little words and share them with my children, amidst us all feeling the pressure of what can seem like daily uphill battles.
On any given day, I don’t always feel particularly optimistic, nor do I have a strong closeness to God at all times in this season. With very little free time on my hands lately, I am whispering a lot of, ‘Help me!” prayers throughout my busy days with the kids, and sometimes, that might be all the time I have to chat with God. Yet, I am very aware that my Saviour has not abandoned me. I’ve known Him to walk with me through many challenges in my past. Giving up a bit more of myself and the desire to have my own way, I am able to start humbly trusting God to bring me and all of us through a season we didn’t ask for or want.
So in this season, I’m going to keep trying my best, thinking before I speak, being kind to all, working on improving myself, accepting where I am at, and choosing to laugh when I can. Once again, I choose to say to God, “I surrender all,” no matter what happens, because I know my heart is safe when He is given all the praise and honour.
Thank you for being so good to us, merciful, and abounding in love.
Forgive us when we’ve lost our temper this past week and made mistakes.
Please be near to us and faithfully assure us of your closeness, as we choose beyond our situations to surrender our all to you.
Renew our weary hearts and may you walk right with us through each day this week.
Refresh us to have your kingdom perspective, that any difficulties faced will not be like this forever.
Help us to be real with how we are feeling and would your Holy Spirit help us to trust you more and more each day.
In the precious name of Jesus we pray,