by Francine Rivers
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Resignation means giving in to something unpleasant that one can’t change. We encounter resigned people every day. We see the hopelessness in their eyes and hear it in their voices. They are like walking wounded, putting one foot in front of the other, playing out their time on this planet. Resignation says, “This is the way life is. We grow up, work hard, grow old, and die.”
After having an abortion during my college years, I resigned myself to living with regret for having committed what I believed to be an unforgivable sin—taking my child’s life. It didn’t matter how many people told me, before or after the abortion, that I’d made “the right decision” or that “it” wasn’t really a child yet anyway. I knew the truth. My choice left me with an emptiness I couldn’t fill.
“It’s my fault”
I thought about suicide. My death would be just and right, wouldn’t it? I’d taken a life. Therefore, my life should be forfeited. But fear held me back. I believed my choice would consign me to hell, and I didn’t want to go there. I thought it better to stay alive and bury the memory, guilt, and shame deep enough that I might be able to forget. After all, there could be no going back and changing what I’d done. What other choice was there but to live with the pain?
The truth was like a stone dropped in the bottom of my heart, sending ripples of consequences through my life. My husband felt it, too, even though he had no part in my decision. When Rick and I lost three of our children to miscarriages, he grieved but I felt resigned. I deserved to lose my children, didn’t I?
Resignation can smother hope, breed depression, and strip away joy. Resignation can become surrender to captivity. It sets a course for the long haul through life. It’s embracing this idea: “This is the way things are. Nothing is going to get better. It’s my fault.”
It’s not always our choices that lead to resignation. At times it can happen because of what is done to us, and it masks itself as a matter of survival.
A girl or boy is kidnapped or seduced, then raped, trafficked, and held in bondage.
A soldier is severely wounded during war.
A fire sweeps away homes and possessions, changing the landscape of an entire town.
Earthquakes, floods, wars, market crashes, illnesses, or deaths of loved ones—so many things are outside our control. But do we have to bear life? Wouldn’t we rather live it?
With all the things that can and often do happen, how we endure is still a decision. No matter the circumstances, life doesn’t have to be ruled by resignation. And, impossible as it may seem, surrender can be the very decision that brings cleansing fire, new life, and the joy we long to experience.
When we surrender, we stop trusting in our own righteousness and instead trust in His (1 Peter 3:18). Instead of resigning ourselves to something painful or negative, we surrender to God, which is the best possible thing we can do because He will lead us to what is best for us.
To surrender to the gospel, we need to acknowledge that we’re incapable of being fully righteous on our own and earning our salvation. Accepting that truth is not the gateway to despair. Instead, it’s the gateway to hope. We’re accepting that we need God and believing He has already provided for that need.
God loved us “even though we were dead because of our sins” (Romans 5:8). He made a way for us even when we were failing, imperfect, and full of ugliness and sin. He has seen it all, yet He calls us to Himself.
I had felt resigned, but I learned God offers abundant life for those who trust in Him. I had been held captive in sin but was rescued by Jesus through the cross.
Francine Rivers is the New York Times bestselling author of Redeeming Love, A Voice in the Wind, The Masterpiece and many others books have been translated into more than 30 different languages. For more information, visit www.FrancineRivers.com or and connect on Facebook. This article is adapted from A Path to Redeeming Love: A Forty-Day Devotional (2020, Multnomah).