Surrendering to God’s Goodness, The Gateway to Peace
Today, I welcome Erica Baldwin, another amazing woman I met in my writing group. I believe her story of surrender and perseverance will inspire and encourage you no matter which season of life or circumstance you are walking through. Today, she shares how she fought for her faith while battling chronic illness and what she found on the other side of surrender.
———- Surrendering to God’s Goodness By Erica Baldwin ———-
It’s been a battle — releasing my grip on what I thought the good Christian life looked like and replacing it with what God lays out in His Word.
I didn’t expect my story to include an incurable genetic condition that includes fragile arteries and organs with life-threatening implications. Surrendering my definition of “good” and replacing it with God’s has been a slow, painful process.
In my mind, suffering was for missionaries and martyrs, not for the Bible-belt Christian girl who kept her nose clean and her Bible close. I thought I could exempt myself from trials, naive that any suffering on this side of Heaven is, in fact, spiritual warfare.
Shaken Faith, Securely Held
Jesus said to Peter in Luke 22:32: “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
What a prayer by Jesus, Peter’s Savior and friend! Jesus knew Peter would deny him shortly after, yet he said “when you have turned again…” Christ knew nothing could snatch Peter from his hand; his position was secure (John 10:28-29).
After my diagnosis at the age of 33, my entire foundation was shaken and the decision to go to war for my faith was in front of me. I could fight to keep my tightly held idol of the good Christian life or I could surrender to what God names “good.” As a brand-new mother with an uncertain future, my theology and circumstances collided at the intersection of faith and lived experience. If God wasn’t good in all things, I didn’t know if I could trust Him for the biggest thing — my salvation. Through years of wrestling, God was patient with my questions, welcomed my lament, and ultimately replaced my doubts with His firm hold on me.
“We are secure, not because we hold tightly to Jesus, but because He holds tightly to us,” said R.C. Sproul.
In many ways, surrender ended up being the harder choice, but God’s grace rushed in to attend to my battle scars. My wounds were washed with the truth of His presence and provision (Deuteronomy 31:8). My healing came as I slowly began to trust God was good and could only do good (Psalm 119:68). The surrender of my plans for God’s good work in the midst of trials began to bring hope instead of dread, peace instead of despair (Psalm 16:8-9).
Acceptance and Trust
“Acceptance, I believe, is the key to peace in this business of suffering…the key to acceptance: the fact that it’s never for nothing,” writes Elisabeth Elliot in her book Suffering is Never for Nothing.
Surrender looks like acceptance of a story I never wanted. I think the idea that God uses pain to “teach us a lesson” is over-simplistic and often overly spiritualized. We cannot check all the correct boxes, earn an “A,” and move on from our trials. God’s ways are more mysterious and loving than we can possibly understand. He is so very near when we cry out to him in our pain.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Life with chronic illness holds countless “what ifs.” For me, the uncertainty has meant infertility, scary ICU stays, lengthy hospitalizations, and annual scans to check for looming threats to my health and life. Plans are held loosely, and the self-driven pressure to make every little moment count is real. Some days, I have to surrender my plans for rest. I have to lay down big dreams for life’s right-here, right-now joys. I have to say “yes” to pain that might be God’s way of showing me His goodness today.
Like Job, I can trust that my suffering is not without purpose and that it’s filtered through the hands of a loving, good God. We have a Savior who suffered greatly for our sins and redemption, and to suffer is to look more like Him (1 Peter 4:12-19). I don’t chase suffering, but I can surrender and endure it because of the goodness of God.
Surrender is not resignation, but the gateway to peace. When I lay down my ideals of “good” for God’s perfect ways, the path is always life.
Erica Baldwin discovered the depths of God’s goodness when, at the age of 33, she was diagnosed with Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, an incurable, life-threatening connective tissue disorder. She gradually traded in her faith in the good life for trust in a good God. Erica lives in North Carolina with her husband and their nine-year-old miracle son. She loves spontaneous fun with family (like board games and bike rides), long coffee dates with friends, and salty snacks. You can find her sharing God’s goodness in the midst of life’s hardest trials on her blog ohhisgoodness.com, Facebook, and Instagram.