“I Can’t” or “Yes, I Can?”

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”Philippians 4:13

We all have buzz words that we remember from our childhood that serve as reminders of those good things that our parents taught us or that they used perhaps often to grow us up. One of those “buzz” words for me is the word “can’t.” I used this often when I lacked confidence at something I was attempting to do or if I was lazy and not willing to put forth an effort to get the job done. Whether it was doing chores, homework, cooking, the arts, or anything else I would say “I can’t” and mom would always reply with this question: “Is it you ‘can’t’ or you just don’t want to?” Wow, that put the responsibility right back where it belonged – on me! The answer to that most of the time was “I don’t want to” thus revealing a heart of rebellion and laziness. Mom, of course, persevered with me, encouraged me (either by conviction or corporately) and thus I became more determined to “get it done” and thus the result was the ability to do things I thought impossible and the blessing of satisfaction in accomplishing something well.

As I thought more on this, I was re-reminded of how many times we as Christians say, “I can’t”! “I can’t deal with this,” “I can’t read and understand the Bible,” “I can’t submit to this husband,” “I can’t discipline and train these children,” “I can’t obey these parents,” “I can’t deal with those folks at church,” “I can’t love those that have hurt me,” “I can’t forgive that wrong or sin,” “I can’t love my enemies,” “I can’t take any more problems or trials,” and one of the most infamous of all “I can forgive but I can’t forget.”! The Bible says otherwise, we “can” because we are His children and have the ability to do all things.

In Jay Adams little book, “Christ and Your Problems, he says:[1]”

“God’s Word “allows no Christian to escape by the word “can’t. ‘There is no trial that has overtaken you but such as is common to men, and God is faithful who will not allow you to be tried beyond what you are able to endure.’ Corinthians 10:13:

If indeed God never sends trials heavier than a Christian can bear, the Christian has no right to protest, “I can’t.” If God has sent it, he can take it! If God has required it, he can do it! Even though the trials we face are not unique in their basic designs, the detailed form they take, the intensity with which they come, and the point in life at which we must face them, are all tailor-made to each individual child of God, and, don’t forget, God is the tailor! No trials or temptations hang too long on us. They fit us precisely.

Given the grace of God, given your knowledge of God’s Word, given your present state of sanctification, given the resources of the Holy Spirit within, there is no trial into which God calls you that is beyond your ability to withstand. Instead of saying “can’t,” you should say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” [p.24]

Dr. Adams then makes personal application:

“Christian wife, your home can be different. Young man, you can help your behavior when you are out alone with girls. Businessman, you can meet that irate customer tomorrow. Shut-in, you can overcome the feeling of loneliness and usefulness that seems to be driving you to despair. Whatever the problem, through Jesus Christ, you can. So go ahead and prove to yourself and those around you that God’s promise is true.” [p.26]

So where are you saying “I can’t” to God and others? Remember God’s promise that you CAN “do all things through Him who strengthens you” so whether it is getting things done, trials or sufferings, forgiveness or trust, believe what God says, practice it and be a “can-doer” of God’s Word; not a doubting “can’t-doer.” Trust Christ that you can!

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[1] Jay E. Adams, “Christ and Your Problems,” Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1971.

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“Heavenly Notes”

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2 thoughts on ““I Can’t” or “Yes, I Can?”

  1. Shannon says:

    My mother’s favorite was “can’t couldn’t do anything until he tried!” Got to say that did not put the responsiblity back on me, but certainly made me aggravated !

    This particular passage from Phillipians unfortunately is almost trite because of the overuse and not realizing what is being said here. I know when I realized the state that Paul made this statement, while in prison, it certainly shed a different light on it.

    Wonderful post.

  2. ReformedWomen says:

    Thanks for your comments Shannon!

    These mom’s know their children, for sure and thank the Lord they took their role seriously and encouraged us to be diligent in those things for which we were responsible.

    You are right! A much overused Scripture in many instances for the wrong reasons. The key is that Christ is directing our paths and has given us His Holy Spirit so we are enabled! Thanks be to God or we would surely fail in all of our endeavors. Jay Adams is good with this…keeping us on our toes with our focus!

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