I Can’t, But He Can

Michael Beck

“Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.” (1 Chronicles 16:11)

Sometimes our “I can’t” really means we can’t – we are physically unable to do something. We may be sick and we can’t get out of bed; or, we’re running late and can’t make it somewhere on time; or, we can’t stay awake any longer, we must go to sleep. But there are other times when “I can’t” is not about the weakness of our flesh, but the willingness of our spirit. In truth, this is more about “I won’t” than “I can’t.”

Unless we are under some oppressive force, we typically do what we are willing to do. We may do things we take little delight in doing, but we do them out of a sense of duty. But when we get to a place where delight and duty are gone, we are ready to throw in the towel. Feelings have now fully taken over.

If we are living by our feelings, a deep aversion to doing something can definitely feel like we have no power to do it. Where the spirit is unwilling, it doesn’t matter how strong the flesh is. We don’t have it “in us” to keep going.

Who has not felt weakness in the face of doing what one should do? But we are exhorted not to be weary in well doing. All who are in Christ possess the potential to overcome the profoundest weakness. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) Christ’s power in our life is perfected in our weakness. When we are weak, and empty, and ready to faint, we can find in our Savior all the empowering we need to run with patience the race set before us. Those who wait on the Lord are able to renew their strength.

There is no question about it: we all come to places where we are physically, emotionally, and mentally spent. In the end, the defining question will be: When things became impossible for us, did we seek the Lord and His strength, or did we choose our weakness? And when we stand before the judgment seat of the Lord, “I couldn’t” will not pass muster, for He will answer: “I know you couldn’t, but I could. Why didn’t you let Me?”

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.