In this episode of the podcast we’ll be considering a very common statement I hear from people who have lived for many years in a painful or hurtful circumstance. “I can’t do this anymore.” I know how you feel, but is it true? Well, yes and no.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve either heard someone say, or have said myself, “I can’t do this anymore.” We say it after a prolonged time of endurance, when the difficulty, frustration, we’ve been hoping will go away, hasn’t. In that moment, when the same old, wearisome thing is happening for the thousandth time, it’s natural to give in to the frustration and hurt and say, “I can’t do this anymore.”
But as a believer in Christ, is that a true statement? Yes, and no.
On the one hand, it is true. You are not God, which means you have limits to your capacity for pain and your ability to endure hardship. You have emotional limits, places where you simply can’t endure another hurtful word or neglectful act. You get to the end of your rope because you are human.
So it’s true, there are times in life when you can truthfully say, “I can’t do this anymore.”
Scripture even bears it out. John 15:5 says,
“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.”
Think about the picture Jesus is painting. He is like a vine; rooted, strong, supplying all the nutrients and water that the rest of the plant needs. We are the branches, entirely dependent on what He provides. Apart from Him (the vine), we cannot produce fruit or even survive. That’s the place where we can’t endure the hard things of life.
It’s when we are operating in our own limited strength and according to our own limited resources. The hardships and pain become too much and we scream the words, “I can’t do this anymore!”
But there’s another side to to what Jesus said, isn’t there?
It’s the side that makes our cry of frustration untrue.
Jesus’ main point is that even though your situation is hard and even though your resources are limited, you don’t have to give up. You can not only endure, but you can produce good godly fruit in that difficult situation. You do it by abiding in Christ.But that’s a church-word, what does it really mean?
My understanding is that abiding in Christ means that you stay close to Him relationally. You get to know Him on a personal level. You learn to relate to Him on a deeply spiritual level, where His Holy Spirit becomes your strength and guide. Naturally, that’s going to require dedicated time in the scriptures. It’s going to take a commitment to prayer. It’s going to demand that you get into relationships with people who can and will help you develop a deeper interaction with Jesus.
All that to say, when prolonged difficulties tempt you to abandon your resolve and give up hope in the situation, you have the ability, through Jesus, to not only endure, but to thrive. But you have to believe that deep down because God says it is true. HE is the one who says that if you rely on His strength, He will accomplish much more in and through you than you ever thought possible.
Practically, that means that if you feel the situation is too much to bear and that you should get out, you need to stop and check in with the LORD. What is HE telling you? What would HE have you do?
Looking at biblical examples of those who we call “heroes of the faith” I find many of them who God kept right in the middle of their difficult circumstances, and brought about amazing things as a result. The example that sticks in my mind the most is Joseph. The majority of his story is one of suffering and mistreatment. He was betrayed by his own brothers and sold into slavery. He was wrongly accused by his slave master’s wife and thrown in prison. He stayed in that prison for over 2 years. Yet in every stage of those injustices, God turned the difficulty into a path of blessing, for Joseph and for others.
Folks, we are FAR too short-sighted to know what is going to come of the hardship or pain we are enduring at any given moment…
and we surely don’t know what the LORD is doing through it. In times like that, when the pain is the most intense we have got to take our focus off the situation and onto the LORD. We’ve got to look beyond the discomfort of the moment so that we can submit ourselves to the will of God in the situation.
So, if you are in a difficult marriage, or if you are enduring hardship with your children right now, or you’re carrying a long-standing burden of another kind, you need to take your eyes off the issues you’re experiencing and put your focus on the LORD’s will for you. Don’t let the pain cause you to convince yourself that God’s will is to “get out.”
Hebrews 10:36 tells us that we have need of endurance, so that when we have done the will of God we may receive what is promised. There is more at stake in this than your present comfort. God has bigger things in mind… for you, and for your family.