You can do it!
Ok! I can do it.
You can do it!
It’s not working, but I’ll try again.
You can do it!
You can do it!
I’ve failed again.
You can do it!
It’s always the same. I always fall back into this.
You can do it!
No, I just…can’t.
Depression. Anxiety. Unbelief. Hopelessness. Fear. Doubt. Worry. Insecurity.
When we are overwhelmed with circumstances and facing our weaknesses, it’s very common to hear or read:
- “You can do it. You can overcome! You’re stronger than this!”
- “You have to think this way”, “You have to do this”, “You have to follow these steps”
- “You’re not the only one with the struggle. It’s normal”
While all these things come from good, heartfelt intentions, often times they don’t really get to the real issue behind our failures and weaknesses. We can know and identify what’s wrong, even know what we have to do, but in a moment of failure, in those dark and lonely spots in life we can often feel like we’re stuck. We know what we have to do, we know we are wrong, we know we are not having the right perspective, yet we don’t see any progress. There are struggles that can go on for a really long time, and we may just feel tired, fed up. We may feel like giving up. We feel powerless to change.
We read in the Bible on how we have to be joyful, hopeful and at peace, yet we just can’t find the strength. We wonder if we are even saved.
I am a pro at trying to figure things out. I have a hard time just letting things flow and an even harder time patiently waiting for things to happen. I want to see things moving and progressing, and when I don’t, I can get frustrated. When I fail, I get frustrated. When things go wrong, I get frustrated.
But I want to share with you: I’ve found a new freedom . God has been showing me certain truths that have truly helped me and given me a greater peace in the midst of my weaknesses.
I. I truly CAN’T. But He can.
The reality is that some of our struggles are not easy to overcome. It’s not like we can wake up one day and decide not to think a certain way anymore — there is some root-deep work that needs to be done. We need our hearts to be transformed and strengthened by something bigger than ourselves. Zechariah 4:6 says God’s work will be done “‘not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty”.
Part of the work God wants to do in us is build our total trust and dependence on Him. It’s not until we recognize that we can’t be holy, perfect and strong by our own that we can relinquish control to Him, “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
What does this mean? It means it’s OK to say that we can’t. It’s OK to go to Him as we are, and tell Him exactly how we feel. It’s OK to have prayers like this:
“But I am in pain and despair;
lift me up, O God, and save me!” Psalms 69:29
“… help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
God can work in us. He can transform us. We are only able to overcome because He is able to overcome. Let us yield our every struggle to His hands and let Him work. Let’s recognize that even though we can’t, HE can.
II. He is not surprised when I fail.
Jesus decided to die for us after seeing our weakness, not before. He is not surprised when we fail. He saw us failing and even there, He decided to love us. Just as we are. With all that we bring.
Know that God is not disappointed in you. He is not so much concerned about us failing as He is about our hearts. Do we have an attitude of repentance? Do we come to Him even after we’ve failed? Do we esteem Him highly enough to make Him part (and all) of our lives? Do we run to Him or away from Him?
Look at David. The Bible says He was a man after God’s heart. And he failed. Miserably, constantly. But yet, he sought to seek God and turn to Him at all times — even (and specially) with his imperfections and failures.
III. There is value in community.
I’ll admit it: I like being by myself. I like being unbothered, alone and left to do what I want, when I want to. If I’d have to choose between going to a party/event or staying home reading a book, I would choose the latter. Whenever I’m going through something, my first reaction is not to run to people: it’s to run from people.
But if there’s something I learned this past year, it’s that I need people. I need community.
- Other believers can help us see things from another perspective.
- Other believers can encourage and comfort us.
- Other believers can listen to us (frankly, that’s sometimes all we need)
- Other believers can intercede and pray for us.
- Other believers can help us know we are not alone.
- Other believers can share their wisdom when they themselves go through the same struggles.
- You can encourage other believers when they are in a similar spot in the future. This gives a new meaning and purpose to our struggles.
- Other believers can help you remember all that God has already done.
IV. There are things I CAN do.
Although we often can’t change our hearts, there are some things that we CAN and should do.
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matt. 26:41
We already know our flesh is weak. We can get discouraged to the point of not wanting to seek God, but this is something that IS under our control to do. We have to put actions above feelings and do the following things:
- Whenever you have bad thoughts, whenever you do something that you know does not please God, PRAY. Talk to God about your weakness. Tell Him how you’re feeling. When we turn to Him constantly we start growing our dependence on Him…and start inviting His presence more and more into our lives. Isaiah 62:7 says “Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work.” God is giving you permission to give Him NO REST until He completes His work in you! So keep asking, keep praying, keep confessing and keep seeking. The act of turning to Him even in our worst will not only please God — it will change our hearts.
- Read His Word for guidance, encouragement and knowledge of who He is. His word will start transforming us from the inside out. Let His word get rooted deep into your heart by reading it when you’re heart is more vulnerable. Let His word soothe your open wounds and fill your thoughts with the Truth.
- Seek community and allow other believers to bless you. Don’t keep all your struggles to yourself. Find a few people whom you can trust and you know have a relationship with Christ and let them in your life. Be open and willing to receive love, encouragement and wisdom from them as they allow themselves to be used to bless you.
V. There is a purpose. There is hope.
Why can’t things just go right? Why can’t we just stop struggling with the things we do?
In the Bible, we see the story of Jacob, a man who fought with God for a blessing, and ended up with a dislocated hip. Os Hillman, in his “Today God is First” devotionals, explained it this way:
Jacob clung to God and refused to let go of this angel. It is the place where Jacob was given a painful but necessary spiritual heart transplant. From that point on, Jacob would walk with a limp, because God had to dislocate his hip in order to overcome Jacob’s strong will.
God often has to “dislocate our hip” through failure and disappointment. Sometimes it is the only way He can get our attention.
Our nature to control and manipulate is so strong that it takes a catastrophic event to wake us up. Yet God did not reject Jacob for these character traits. In fact, God blessed him greatly because He saw something in Jacob that pleased Him. He saw a humble and contrite heart beneath the cold and manipulative exterior of Jacob’s life, and it was that trait that God needed to develop. He did this by bringing about the crisis in Jacob’s life that led to total consecration. This event was marked by Jacob getting a new name, Israel. For the first time, Jacob had a nature change, not just a habit change. What will God have to do in our lives to gain our complete consecration to His will and purposes?
Rest assured that there is more to our trials that meets the eye. God wants to work in our hearts to remove selfishness, pride and the desire to control to surrender, humbleness, love and submission to His will and His people. He will often allow us to go through the fire so we can get purified. Once again, rest assured that – if you allow Him – He will work in you in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. He is ALREADY working in you. As you keep walking, trusting, giving and surrendering, He will make your load lighter and your chains looser as He brings His work in you into completion. It will be worth it.
God, we are weak. We surrender all our struggles and weaknesses to You now. We want to present to You our way of thinking. Please transform us. We know and recognize that we can’t overcome by ourselves – only You have the power to overcome. Please soften and transform our hearts so we can become more like you. Help us turn to you even in our worst, as we want to make you King over our lives. Forgive us for our sins and make us new. Thank you for having new mercies each day for us. Thank you for loving us in spite of ourselves. Help us love you more and more each day, and help us be light wherever we go. Thank you for all you have done and all you will do. Amen.