Surrendering Your Will to God in Difficult Times

How this decision is the only path to peace.

I have discovered that the most difficult battles in life simply mirror Jesus’ struggle in Gethsemane. His words to the Father remain the most challenging words we could utter:

Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. —Luke 22:42

Surrendering Your Will to God in Difficult Times

(Photo: Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus surrendered His will. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Surrendering your will to God in difficult times is often harder than the trial itself.

I have found that my greatest challenges come not from those circumstances that press in upon me, but from the internal struggle to surrender my will to God. I enter Gethsemane daily and have to drag my will to the Father in prayer.

So do you.

Why Surrendering Your Will to God is Tough

Surrendering your will to God is hardest in difficult times. I thought of a few examples:

  • When someone for whom we’ve prayed for years dies unrepentant“Not my will, but Yours be done.”
  • When living as a godly spouse, parent, or single proves enormously harder than we ever imagined“Not my will, but Yours be done.”
  • When we lose a job and suddenly face an uncertain future“Not my will, but Yours be done.”
  • When a child is born with a physical or mental defect—“Not my will, but Yours be done.” 

The list only ends when life does. That’s what makes it tough.

Garden of Gethsemane olive trees.

(Photo: Garden of Gethsemane olive trees. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Why Surrendering Your Will to God is Essential

Life will hand you what seems like a raw deal. Solutions seem as gnarled as the olive trunks in Gethsemane. And when God’s will for you seems cruel to you and anything but good, you will wage no greater battle than the surrender of your will.

At that moment, when God’s goodness seems like a hypocritical pile of hogwash, you stand only inches away from using anger to justify your sin. But don’t do it.

I promise you, surrendering your will to God lies at the very core of whatever grieves you. And surrendering in absolute trust to the Father—as Jesus did in Gethsemane—remains the only path to peace.

Especially when you can make no sense of it all.

Question: How does surrendering your will to God help you when you’re struggling? To leave a comment, just click here.


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  • Walt

    When my wife’s cancer came back, we went through 31/2 years of tough times before she went home to be with our Lord. I realized that I couldn’t fix this, and began to pray that God’s will be done. Reluctantly at first. He knew what she needed, not me, and I learned to trust Him is ways I never knew were possible. At some point “not my will but Yours be done”, became the most comforting prayer we prayed.  He gave us His peace that passes all understanding during those very difficult times. 

    • It’s amazing how we never know how deeply God’s peace can comfort us until those hard, hard times when nothing else will help. Only God could make such tough seasons such rich ones in retrospect. Thanks, Walt, for sharing.

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  • Jane Franks

    When my husband was critically injured in an automobile accident — broken neck and spinal cord damage — I was so grateful he was not fully paralyzed. And yet as time passed I became impatient and was tempted with bitterness that he didn’t get “completely” well again; when I realized he was permanently deformed. He could no longer drive the car or walk long distances, and many other little things. As Walt, below, said, I couldn’t fix this. That was 7 years ago, and we are still in that altered state of our lives. I get tired, and sometimes I pace and pray — when it is cold or raining, in the garage! At those times the struggle to release my will — for our lives to be different — is almost suffocating, but as I pray anyway, and by an act of my will — not relying on my feelings — release my will into God’s will, tears flow, and peace comes. I wish it didn’t take so long to let go sometimes! But I wouldn’t trade those times of close fellowship I feel with God when the peace does flow in for anything. And it is then I realize that God was very close all the time, just waiting for me to release my will into His. This whole experience has made Him far more real and central in my life than anything else ever could have. And I have the peace and joy that one day we will be whole and free. And in the meantime, I’ve seen my husband be a blessing because of his incapacity in ways he might not have been otherwise.

    • As a daily caregiver, Jane, you’d likely find some encouragement in the Special Needs Blog of Insight for Living. Its whole goal is to encourage families like yours and folks like you. Thanks so much for sharing here . . . and for loving your husband according to your vows: “In sickness and in health.”

      • Jane Franks

        Thank you, Wayne, I’ll check that out. I am very impressed with the Special Needs ministry at Stonebriar. That’s amazing! So needed, and so tragically missing in many churches. Praise God for all you (collectively) are doing!

  • Laura Apligian

    He gives me peace and helps me to see at times his wisdom and will in my struggle.

    • Good to hear from you, Laura! Yes, it’s amazing how God grants peace amidst the most challenging times of life. Thanks so much for your comments.

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  • LKO

    As hard as it is, surrender to God’s will is the only real option if you want peace. The alternative is bitterness and anger, and those emotions – however justified they may be or feel – are self-destructive.

    What brings me comfort is focusing on the sovereignty of God, that He will take the sinful actions of others and the pain and suffering of living in a fallen world and somehow use them for our good and His glory – beauty for ashes – in ways that I still can’t see or imagine.

    For those going through difficult seasons, give yourselves grace if you struggle – struggle is almost inevitable. Knowing that God is sovereign is one thing – fully resting in that sovereignty requires a daily – and at times an even more frequent – act of surrender.

    • Your words are wise. Thank you for sharing the insights that can only have come from experiencing God’s grace in the midst of struggle. Thank you.

  • Kim

    One of the hardest things im experiencing is dealing with the expectations of others. They look at you like why aren’t you better yet, something must be wrong with you’re faith, etc. I find that most often God is the only one who can authentically deal with my struggles. That’s hard;

    • I know what you mean, Kim. I have found that when others’ expectations hurt me, I have to unhook my value from them and place it back on God. Tough assignment, but absolutely essential. A book that really helped me is When People are Big and God is Small. I think it would encourage you too. Thanks.

  • Eliajh

    Especially when you can make no sense of it all.
    The Line of the year, there is the best explanation of the new creation. Following the pull is the only real influence at times. So glad to see this as a topic. Joy Joy to not be alone, so cool. Yeah man i experience great joys and express myself through wonder Praise in church and at Home alone as well. Yet when trials come and the devil comes for the Word that was heard, I want to learn to fight and stand up against the enemy. yet my spirit hears, Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Most of my time now is spent, learning and seeing the Word opening up into new revelation. My life is changing through faith. Peter is such a great example, Christ told him yeah you are gonna fall, but when you get up again go and restore the others. So through faith this displacement will be an effective tool for the kingdom. But for right now, Wow

    • I am thrilled to hear of your commitment to the word of God. Stand strong, my friend, and continue to pursue your walk with Jesus Christ. Thanks.