The Difference Between Giving Up and Letting Go


All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.

Martin Buber

In many situations in life, our instinct is to fight it, fix it, and seize control. But very often, the Lord is asking us to do the opposite. He’s asking us to let go. 

Surrender is completely counterintuitive.

But that’s the nature of life lived God’s way. It runs against our natural instincts. 

But letting go isn’t the same as giving up.

Giving up is when the rope is torn out of your bleeding hands.

It’s something you allow to happen by a choice of your will.

God never wants us to give up. But He does want us to let go.

Letting go is an act of acceptance and surrender.

It’s also part of life.

To let go is to accept those things we cannot change. It doesn’t mean we approve of those things or even like them. But we release them nonetheless.

Letting go is an act of love, not defeat. It’s a deliberate decision to place our trust in Jesus Christ.

Letting go is the path to freedom. It also opens the door for God to gain what He’s after without interrupting, interfering with, or intercepting the masterpiece He’s seeking to create in you.

The fact is life is a series of losses.

We lose friends, relationships, jobs, churches, family members, even our favorite stores, restaurants, hotels, and TV shows. The only thing that’s guaranteed is our earthly existence, and even that will be gone one day when we transition to the next life.

But all loss is an opportunity for further growth. As Frank Laubach writes, “He is a true soldier who faces peril and losses and defeat and pain without losing his nerve. This is also the test of a genuine follower of Christ.”

As difficult as it is to let go, keep this in mind: You’re not really letting go. You’re simply transferring the problem into God’s hands—hands that are far more capable than your own.

As children bring their broken toys

With tears for us to mend,

I brought my broken dreams to God,

because He was my friend.

But then, instead of leaving Him

In peace, to work alone,

I hung around and tried to help,

with ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried,

“How can You be so slow?”

“My child,” He said,

“What could I do?

You never did let go.”

Letting go isn’t easy. But if a tree did not let go of its leaves, new growth in the spring wouldn’t be possible. Fall is brilliant because it shows us the beauty and the value of letting go.

hong on let go book

frank violaFrank Viola is a bestselling author, conference speaker, and blogger. His mission is to help serious followers of Jesus know their Lord more deeply so they can experience real transformation and make a lasting impact. Viola has written many books on these themes, including God’s Favorite Place on EarthFrom Eternity to Here, and his landmark book, Insurgence: Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom. His blog, Beyond Evangelical, is rated as one of the most popular in Christian circles today. Visit his website at

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