“I can do it.”
Those four simple words were the embodiment of my attitude towards guys throughout my early teenage years. With the strong feministic views of society crowding my mind, I was not about to let anyone, especially a guy, help me. I was a strong, independent woman, and I could do it myself.
I remember very clearly one afternoon at church, when we were all clearing up after a church lunch, and the teenagers had been tasked with packing away the tables and chairs. The tables were very thin, built so that a single person could carry them, but they were also made out of solid wood.
Of course, being the obstinate fourteen-year-old that I was, I hoisted up a table, ignored the sudden ache in my arms, and set off for the storage cupboard. Halfway there, the table began to pull painfully against my shoulder and as I shifted, I knew that it was clear I was struggling.
“I can take that for you if you want,” Just behind me was one of the boys from my grade. He was lean and sporty and could easily carry a table by himself.
“I can do it,” I said through gritted teeth. Even though it was obvious that I couldn’t.
“Okay,” he said.
I turned and trudged on toward the cupboard. Seconds later, my hand slipped, and the table fell with a thud… right into the guy who had offered me a helping hand. He didn’t smirk triumphantly, didn’t say ‘I told you so,’ he just helped me carry the table to the cupboard. We ended up carrying more tables together, him quietly helping a stubbornly silent me without comment. Even though he could have left me struggling by myself, he continued to help.
Eventually, after we had cleared all the tables away, I cleared my throat and swallowed my pride.
“Hey, uh, thanks.”
He smiled. “Of course.”
Accepting help is hard. Even now, I still struggle with it. I can’t quite let other people help me; whether I’m carrying boxes, cleaning up, or just packing away some chairs from church. Whether I can handle it or not, I don’t want help.
The Strengths of Weakness
This is the attitude of a lot of young people today. We don’t want help. We’re strong, independent, and don’t need assistance. Accepting help shows that we’re weak
Or does it?
In 2 Corinthians 12:10, Paul says, ‘For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’
Wow. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? How can we be strong when we are weak?
Think about it. When we think we’re strong, do we want help? Well, of course we don’t. We can do it.
But if we are strong, and can do everything ourselves, where does God fit in the picture?
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “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.”
It’s okay to be weak. If we don’t realize our limit, if we always say, “I can do it,” we push God out of the picture.It’s okay to be weak. If we don’t realize our limit, if we always say, “I can do it,” we push God out of the picture. Click To Tweet
So how can we tell the difference between when we are trying to live on our own strength, and when we are letting God be strong for us?
Through many years of trial and error, I realized that trying to live on my own strength looked like me trying to fix my own problems alone, or simply ignoring them, hoping they would go away.
In school, in music, in every area of life, I tried to fix things myself, push through the pain, and never admit to any kind of weakness.
This was a life of me unintentionally pushing away God, trying to do things on my own strength, without even knowing that I was. I prayed to God and read God’s Word, but I had no idea I was pushing him out of my life.
Strengthen Yourself Through Others
Living on God’s strength isn’t just about talking to him and hearing his word. God often offers help by putting people in our lives to assist us.
That looks like asking for help, instead of relying on our own strength. Getting advice from our parents, family, and the teachers and mentors God’s placed in our life. It means being humble enough to acknowledge our weakness, instead of hiding our pain.
When I started having extreme wrist pain when I played my flute, at first I ignored it. I just strapped my wrist and kept on playing. I didn’t want to admit weakness. When my teacher found out and told me I had to rest over Christmas break, I didn’t want to, but I did what she asked, because I needed the help. My wrist is almost completely healed now.
It’s hard to accept help, but if we don’t accept God’s help, we’re going to be in a very bad place. Every time, if I hadn’t either accepted God’s help, or had it forced on me, I would have crumbled under the weight of my worries.
And accepting help from God means accepting help from people, too. God places people in our life for specific purposes, and one such purpose is to help us.
As humans, our pride often gets in the way of accepting help. That feeling of not needing anyone, of thinking that you are fine without help, is the lie that our basically sinful human heart keeps telling us. But in James 4:10 it says, ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.’
He will lift us up.
God Our Strength
We aren’t perfect, so try as we might, we won’t be able to do it by ourselves. It often isn’t until something big slips from our grasp and God catches it, that we realize we need him.
And he’s not going to smirk, or say, “I told you so.”
He’s going to smile and say, “Of course,” because that’s who he is.
We are imperfect.
God is perfect.
We cannot do everything on our own, but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
We are weak, but he is strong.