I used to think that giving up and giving in were essentially the same thing. I thought that both meant you were defeated, only one meant you quit trying and the other was simply admitting you’d been beat. But over the years I’ve come to realize they have two very different meanings. And you can have very different outcomes in your situation depending upon your choice to give up or give in.
Beginning at an early age most children are taught to never give up. No matter how tough things gets, you should never, ever quit – you must keep trying to the very end. I was made to believe that if I gave up it was weakness and defeat. I believed the same about giving in. I thought that giving in meant you were throwing in the towel before things got too ugly. You knew you couldn’t hold off the inevitable so you just went ahead and admitted defeat. Both choices carried such a sense of shame and disappointment.
Today I see the two much differently. I know many people in very difficult situations. Whether marital, financial, health, or relational issues with family or co-workers, it seems problems today have reached an intensity level that is almost too much to bear for those involved. People are fighting for breakthrough in their circumstances but many times they no longer have the strength to continue the battle and they give up. It’s just too hard and we are only meant to take so much. Certainly there are some that can hang in there much longer than others and have a will to overcome that is truly remarkable. But everyone has a breaking point – the point where they say “I give up.” It is difficult to witness that moment when someone quits trying because there is still s0 much shame associated with giving up. When we give up we are admitting that we have failed and we are unable to overcome.
But giving in can be very different and depending on who or what you give in to, it may not be a sign of weakness but a sign of great strength. Just like when I was a child, giving in means throwing in the towel before things gets too ugly. When you wave the white flag of surrender, not to defeat but to God, you are admitting you can no longer fight in your own strength and you are putting your trust in God to fight on your behalf. The weight is lifted because you quit relying on yourself and begin to rely solely on Him. It takes faith to give in to God but a lack of faith to give up.
It’s never easy to give in because when we do so it means we have to let go of whatever it is we are handing over to God. It means we no longer have the ability to control the outcome but that we are entrusting that outcome to God and having the faith that it will be far better than anything we could have done. Letting go is difficult but hanging on for dear life to an out-of-control situation will never be a better choice than letting go and letting God.
Giving up is losing hope, but when you give in to God, you haven’t lost hope, you’ve simply shifted your hope from the unreliable to the always reliable Rock. Giving in means to yield in favor of another – you make the choice to give the power to God to move upon your situation. You stop opposing God and begin to work with Him instead of against Him. It is not weakness to give in to His ways, it’s freedom. It requires humility on our part to submit our lives to God and when we do we are set free from the burden of trying in vain to control our circumstances.
Don’t be deceived that if you give in you lose. When you give in to God the victory is already won (Col. 2:15, Heb. 2:14) and you are set free from the worry and the weight of going it alone. And remember, don’t ever give up. Not because it means you will have failed but because giving in to God is always better than giving up. If you are in the middle of an intense fight in your life, choose now to throw in the towel and surrender your fight to Jesus. He stands ready for battle on your behalf, “for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2Chron. 20:15)