Give Up or Give Over

Mesu Andrews Featured Articles 4 Comments



It’s just the difference in one little word—up or over—but the choice can change lives. Ever tried to potty-train a two year old? Raise a teenager? Then you might have felt like giving up. Those precious rascals can push parents to the very edge of insanity.

Maybe you’re single and long for a spouse, or you’re in a dead-end job that robs your joy. Don’t give up on your dreams and desires. Give them over.

What’s the difference, you ask? I experienced the distinction a few years ago.

My dad’s health had been failing for years, but he took a sharp downturn in the summer of 2012. Despite hospice predictions of his imminent death, he held onto life tenaciously. In those final hours, my nephew, who had been especially close with his grandpa, lay across my dad’s chest and prayed, “Jesus, take care of my grandpa.”

Within moments my dad relaxed and peacefully walked into the arms of Jesus. My nephew didn’t give up on my dad. He led our whole family to give him over. There is a vast difference.

3 Ways to Give It Over

Two Hebrew women in Moses’s life, Jochebed and Miriam, knew what it meant to give over, and they demonstrate it in three unforgettable ways…

Lesson #1 –

Recognize the limits of our human efforts, and prepare the way for God’s intervention.

“Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.” (emphasis added) Exodus 2:1-4

The difference between giving up and giving over is maintaining our hope after we step back. Giving up means we throw disillusioned hands in the air and walk away. Giving over means we take steps to prepare the way for God’s blessing. Jochebed prepared a water-proof vessel, placed her baby in crocodile-infested waters (Yikes!), and sent her daughter to watch for God’s provision. Dangerous, yes. Hopeful, you bet. Faith-building, absolutely.

Lesson #2 –

Don’t panic when God’s methods of rescue seem to be worst-case scenario.

“Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. ‘This is one of the Hebrew babies,’ she said. Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?’ ‘Yes, go,’ she answered. And the girl went and got the baby’s mother.” (emphasis added) Exodus 2:5-8

What was Miriam’s first thought when Pharaoh’s daughter found her baby brother? This was the daughter of the man who had ordered this genocide! But Miriam remained calm, trusted God to work even in the worst-case scenario, and she offered an outrageously hopeful solution. Then she stood firm to watch God miraculously provide. God is eternal, and He’s more interested in our process than our peace. Complicated human problems—with kids, jobs, relationships, other decisions—require years to mess up and, therefore, years to untangle. In the midst of this earthly journey, we will do well to view our seemingly tragic moments through a long-term lens focused on our eternal God.

Lesson #3 –

Giving up we do once and walk away. Giving over we do repeatedly—and draw closer to God each time.

“Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.’ So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water.’” (emphasis added) Exodus 2:9-10

The first time Jochebed gave over her baby to God’s care, she placed Moses in a pitch-covered basket among the reeds of the Nile. The second time she entrusted him to the LORD, she knowingly placed him under the influence of a king who had tried to exterminate the Hebrews. Giving over doesn’t mean we trust people. It means we trust God to work through—and sometimes in spite of—people. And giving over is a choice we must often make again, and again, and again as we are faced with new challenges in lasting relationships.

The Greatest Example

Our supreme goal as believers is to become more like Christ each day, and He is perfect in His example of giving over rather than giving up. Just as Jochebed and Miriam gave baby Moses over to Yahweh for His perfect protection and plan, so Jesus gave over the disciples (then and now) to His Father:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:20-26

You and I are the fruit of that prayer. The ability to give over wasn’t easy for our Savior nor is it easy to give over those we love–but it’s how His eternal Kingdom grows. It’s how we grow.

What an honor. What a joy. What a calling.



Today’s Question:

  • What circumstance, stressor, or person is the hardest for you to give over?

Comments 4

  1. This insight from you/God has deeply touched me. My husband died 8 years ago and I have not been able to give over my loss of him. I want to– I try to–but the emptiness comes in waves. I suppose because everyone says I should have moved on by now, makes me feel bad that I haven’t. Outwardly I guess I would appear “normal” but inside my joy is gone. I’m going to read that scripture again and trust God will touch my very being with the truth of His words. Thank you again for your insights.

    1. Post

      Oh, dear one…I can’t imagine the pain you’ve been through and are going through still. We know there is no limit on grief, but when the Lord gives us release, we know it. I pray His precious hand walks you to that place of release today through His Word. I’ll be praying for you today as He brings you to mind. Hugs across the miles…

  2. Such good words. I’m struggling with the challenge of an adult child’s battle with relationships, and 500 miles away. Lesson #3 – giving over we do repeatedly. So true, so difficult! thank you for sharing.

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