Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

What ‘Let Go and Let God’ Does and Does Not Mean for Christians

What ‘Let Go and Let God’ Does and Does Not Mean for Christians

“Let go and let God” has become a beloved saying. When we feel overwhelmed, we are reminded to give control over to God. It’s a feel-good statement which, when said, isn’t always necessarily referencing the Christian God.

If you, like me, have needed the one true God to rescue you many times, you may also be wondering: what does it mean to “let go?” And what part do I continue to play as I “let God” help me endure suffering?

So, what does ‘let go and let God’ really mean and look like in our lives?

There are two parts to this phrase: our part, and God’s part. We need to figure out what we are letting go of and what we are letting God do. First, let’s look at four ways we can let go:

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Tom Merton

  • 1. Let Go of Perceived Control and Strength

    1. Let Go of Perceived Control and Strength

    While kayaking with my husband on a big lake one afternoon, a storm rose suddenly. I paddled furiously against the wind, going nowhere, believing I could manage fine if I just paddled hard enough. Finally, my husband and I decided to head for the nearest place of refuge and hang on. If I had tried paddling any further, my strength would have given out. I would have overturned in dark choppy waters or been driven to a distant shore miles from the nearest help.

    I had to hold tight to safety and let the storm rage around me. I had to stop believing in my strength—and recognize that I had no power over the storm.

    God always maintains full control of situations around us, even the painful or scary ones. He invites us to rest in His strength. My part is to submit to His will and trust Him, even if chaos swirls around me.

    “God wants to be Lord of my life so that His Spirit flourishes in me,” writes Jeanne Doyon. “Surrender brought victory and a clearer understanding of who God is and his ability to do what he says.”

    Paul put it this way: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10)

    2. Let Go of Entitlement

    We love our dreams, cherish our expectations, and nurture our pride. We believe people should act a certain way; that life should go as we planned. We expect God to honor our goals, but He usually selects different and better ones.

    I don’t know about you, but I sulk when I don’t get my way. Sometimes I just want to be told I’m right. And I don’t want to wait for answers or relief from my pain.

    1 John 1:9 says “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God has given us forgiveness and a promised inheritance in heaven.

    How can we receive what the Father wants to give us if our hands are full? He helps us swap pride for humility and patience. Proverbs 3:6 offers sage advice: “in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

    He’s going to straighten my path—what a relief.

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Shane Rounce

  • 3. Let Go of Worry

    3. Let Go of Worry

    In this decade, we’re learning that any global crisis can upend health, jobs, anything. As we pivot to make-do, a host of precautions and changes inspire anxiety. They can escalate to panic and apocalyptic nightmares if we don’t maintain a healthy, godly perspective.

    Heather Adams says “continuing to worry [...] keeps me stuck in a place of fear.” Fear won’t help us fight disaster, pandemic, disease, or mental illness.

    God repeatedly says “do not worry” and “do not fear.” He offers supernatural peace because it can cut through darkness where chemical sanitizers are useless. The Father offers us peace amidst financial challenges, sickness, or bipolar disorder.

    Allow God to replace your worry with these gifts.

    Now that we’ve explored four ways to ‘let go,’ here are three ways to ‘let God:’ 

    1. Let God Show His Power

    It’s normal to want to run away from a big problem, or at least ignore it for a time. Have you ever turned back to deal with an issue and realized it was more manageable than you expected? Or the problem was massive, yet God’s mercy surprised and delighted you?

    To really see, we have to be looking. If we slip into denial, pretending nothing is wrong, we miss God’s glory when He flexes His almighty muscles.

    Joseph persevered as a model prisoner until the Lord brought him to a position of power and used his brothers’ evil plans to bring about an awe-inspiring outcome. Joseph waited and watched—and was rewarded.

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jeremy Bishop

  • 2. Let God Comfort You

    2. Let God Comfort You

    Jonah was distraught when the Lord saved wicked Nineveh from destruction. Even while Jonah sinned in his heart, God offered comfort by growing a tree to shade him from the hot sun.

    But instead of taking comfort, Jonah nestled into resentment and the tree withered.

    If Jonah had remembered that God had just given him a second chance, he might not have begrudged Nineveh theirs. Maybe God’s love would have comforted Jonah. Often, comfort goes hand-in-hand with gratitude. Give thanks that the Lord has saved you; that He is close and loving.

    Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.1 Peter 5:7

    3. Let God Become the Focus of Your Life

    One reason we suffer is that our priorities get messed up.

    When trouble comes, our lives are on the threshing room floor...and much of what we thought was important is chaffe. We have the opportunity to re-establish priorities and put God in the center, perhaps for the first time, maybe for the first time in a while.

    Whitney Hopler wrote “don’t settle for anything less than the best – making God your top priority. Live out your faith 24/7 rather than just on Sunday mornings. Do life God’s way instead of your way.”

    When my gaze is fixed on the Lord, when I’m still and quiet, all of my confusion settles down. I feel His comforting closeness and discern His direction.

    Next, let’s look at what this phrase doesn’t mean, and if these exact words are found in Scripture.

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Andrea Piacquadio

  • hands holding open Bible in bright sunny field, God' forgiveness

    What This Doesn’t Mean for Christians

    This powerful and popular phrase is not merely encouragement to leave everything to fate or chance. It’s not okay to let go of morals and beliefs and willfully sin just because God forgives us. We’re not letting go of accountability and good sense only because God will make sense of everything.

    We still need to pursue God’s direction with Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship. Otherwise, our “God” might become more like the worldly “god”—powerless and distant. We might as well forget the cross and the resurrection but, then, what basis would we have for faith at all?

    Is ‘Let Go and Let God’ in Scripture?

    God never instructed Moses to write these words. It’s not in Psalms or Proverbs. Christ never told a parable about how to “let go and let God” and Paul didn’t write the phrase in one of his letters. Turn scripture upside down, shake it, switch from Greek to Hebrew and back again: it’s not in there. The origins of ‘let go and let God’ are not certain.

    The idea is there, but more fully realized, and with a different emphasis. After all, we don’t truly ‘let’ Almighty God do anything. He “does what He pleases.” (Psalm 115:3)

    Let’s wrap up with how ‘let go and let God’ looks in believers’ lives today:

    Photo Credit: ©Sparrowstock

  • african american woman eyes closed in peaceful open hands prayer

    Learning to Let Go and Let God

    1. Nurture fellowship. Even if you can’t go to live Sunday services, seek others who believe the Gospel and who will remind you that God is in control. Meet over Zoom or Skype and dive into scripture together. Strengthen each other’s faith by being “devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)

    You might find that, with your eyes on other people’s needs, your worries will diminish. Meanwhile, prayerful friends will be lifting your concerns to God on your behalf.

    2. Discover His promises. God says “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5) Those are His words to Joshua, and to all of us. Read the Old and New Testament for more promises from God.

    3. Read about promises kept. When the Lord said He would do a thing, He did it. In Exodus He parted the sea; in Isaiah He promised to send Immanuel. Jesus said He would rebuild the temple after three days and He rose from the very grave itself. Whatever you’re worrying about, it’s nothing God hasn’t powerfully overcome.

    4. Kneel before God, hands out, and fists unclenched. Name the problems you are letting go of and repent. Sometimes the physical act of letting go reminds me of what I withhold from God and what He wants to give me: His power, love, and comfort.

    Besides: kneeling reminds me of God’s holiness. Go ahead and use a pillow. Remember, this is not ‘gratuitous suffering.’ It’s holy submission.

    Prayer for Submitting to God

    Almighty God, help us to trust You. Show us what to let go of; empower us to submit. Forgive us for presuming to know better, Lord. Thank you that you have more for us than we are holding onto. Your plans are better; Your dreams are better dreams. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

    “Let go and let God” means to submit and trust. What do I miss when I stubbornly hold onto foolish ideas about what is best? Maybe I’ll never know. But I’m grateful that Christ came to demonstrate perfect trust and total submission.

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/digitalskillet


    Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.