One day while reading the account of the man with the withered hand, it occurred to me that what Jesus asked him to do – to stretch out his hand – was exactly what he could not do. Same with the paralyzed man whom Jesus told to rise, take up his bed, and walk. That’s exactly what he couldn’t do. Thankfully neither of these argued with Jesus about it. They just obeyed. And in the obedience they found the ability they’d not had before, given by God’s grace.
A popular saying is “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle.” Of course He does! He asks any number of things of us that we can’t do except with His help and grace.
This doesn’t mean we should start looking for impossible feats to accomplish. These were things Jesus asked – or rather, commanded of people, not foolhardy, reckless acts.
But it does mean that when He wants me to do something I don’t think I can do, instead of telling Him all the reasons I can’t, like Moses (which I am prone to do), or waiting to feel like I have the strength and the ability, I should just take the next step, put one foot in front of the other, obey, and trust Him for the ability.
It’s happened in the past. Jobs that were too big for me. Situations too hard to go through. Dealing with ongoing health issues. Events that, if I could have seen all that would be involved, would have sent me running to the hills. There have been situations I have looked back on and wondered how in the world I got through them.
I’ve thought of this truth in relation to those things, but recently I’ve begun to connect them not just to the “big” events of life, but the everyday fighting against temptation, facing mundane responsibilities, loving like Jesus loves when it’s far from easy. Those are just as impossible in my own strength.
Only by God’s grace. Only by His strength. That’s part of the reason for these situations: for our growth and faith, yes, but also so people will see it’s Him.
That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, Lord, hast done it. Psalm 109:27
Even knowing all that, my default response is usually to quiver and say, “I can’t.” And I truly can’t. But He can, through me. And like Peter, who was asked the impossible action of walking on water, I need to keep my eyes not on the boisterous winds and waves, not on the circumstances that would make it impossible, but on Him.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5
For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.Luke 1:37-38
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13