There’s a popular meme that often comes across my Instagram feed that reads “She believed she could. So she did.”
It’s a message that says, You’ve got this, girl. If you believe in yourself enough and work hard enough, you can do it.
Listen, I’m a plucky girl with a lot of grit (some would say hard-headed), but I don’t buy the words of that meme. Because I have very much encountered circumstances too much to handle.
Life can dish out some hard things. And maybe, like me, you’ve found yourself navigating a life you never saw coming or facing a future you’d rather trade in.
Several years ago, I went to bed happily married to my high school sweetheart and woke up a widow and single mom to seven children. My life before my husband’s death hadn’t been perfect. We’d had our share of struggles in marriage, challenges in raising kids and difficulties in finances. But even with those imperfections, it was the life I wanted. The life I would have chosen over and over again.
My grief included so much more than the death of my husband. Anyone who’s walked shattering loss understands the reverberations it sends through life as you know it. Expectations for the future, dreams we held, the normal rhythms of family and household were all gone and would never be again. Friendships shifted, single parenting felt vulnerable and my finances based on Dan’s now-gone income felt precarious.
I was in decision overwhelm dealing with estate paperwork, household issues and children ranging from preschool to college. I was reeling from grueling emotions and trying to shepherd my children through theirs. Fear of an unfathomable future threatened to paralyze me and in the midst of it all, I sensed the enemy working overtime to get his foot into our little family and finish off the devastation we felt.
Life can give us far too much to handle.
Maybe you’re facing circumstances that are too much to handle. Maybe you’re grieving a loss that’s too hard, dealing with a diagnosis that seems daunting or parenting a child who’s difficult.
Elijah the prophet faced circumstances that were too hard. Elijah was no featherweight. He was a bold and courageous prophet in Israel during the time when wicked King Ahab and his wicked wife, Jezebel, ruled.
Elijah challenged 800 prophets of Baal on the summit of Mount Carmel to prove God was the true God. After the prophets of Baal sacrificed a bull, chanted and cut themselves without any response from their god, Elijah built an altar to God. He drenched it with water till a moat surrounded the altar and then prayed. God immediately sent fire, consuming the sacrifice and licking up the water.
Then with no clouds on the horizon, Elijah prayed for rain and, filled with the power of God, tucked up his cloak running ahead of the rain and King Ahab’s chariots—a distance between seventeen and thirty miles. Elijah was no featherweight indeed.
And yet, days later, when his life was threatened, Elijah cowered in the wilderness. There, sitting alone under a broom tree, Elijah prayed: “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life.” (1 King 19:4, NIV)
Elijah had come to a place where circumstances were too hard to handle.
God didn’t shake his head at Elijah with a tsk, tsk, tsk. He didn’t rebuke him or tell him to get himself together. Instead, God sent His presence to Elijah.
Despite what the memes may tell us, God didn’t design us to be able to handle everything life can dish up alone. He didn’t create us to walk in our own strength.
God designed us to be utterly dependent on Him. It’s one of the last thing Jesus told his apostles just before His crucifixion.
“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, ESV, emphasis added)
Circumstances that stretch us far past our own strength remind us God intends us to lean on Him.
Trying harder or pushing through or digging down for internal fortitude will always fall short when God designed us to look to Him to do what we cannot.
So when circumstances are too much for us to handle, I suggest a different meme. Let’s rest in our relationship with our all-powerful God and tell our soul these words instead: “She believed she couldn’t, but she trusted that God who called her to it, would equip her for it.”