When God Asks the Impossible

One day while reading the account of the man with the withered hand, it occurred to me that what Jesus asked him to do – to stretch out his hand – was exactly what he could not do. Same with the paralyzed man whom Jesus told to rise, take up his bed, and walk. That’s exactly what he couldn’t do. Thankfully neither of these argued with Jesus about it. They just obeyed. And in the obedience they found the ability they’d not had before, given by God’s grace.

A popular saying is “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle.” Of course He does! He asks any number of things of us that we can’t do except with His help and grace.

This doesn’t mean we should start looking for impossible feats to accomplish. These were things Jesus asked – or rather, commanded of people, not foolhardy, reckless acts.

Nor does it mean that I should say “Yes” to every seemingly impossible opportunity that comes my way. Sometimes God puts limits or closed doors in our path to teach and guide us.

But it does mean that when He wants me to do something I don’t think I can do, instead of telling Him all the reasons I can’t, like Moses (which I am prone to do), or waiting to feel like I have the strength and the ability, I should just take the next step, put one foot in front of the other, obey, and trust Him for the ability.

It’s happened in the past. Jobs that were too big for me. Situations too hard to go through. Dealing with ongoing health issues. Events that, if I could have seen all that would be involved, would have sent me running to the hills. There have been situations I have looked back on and wondered how in the world I got through them.

I’ve thought of this truth in relation to those things, but recently I’ve begun to connect them not just to the “big” events of life, but the everyday fighting against temptation, facing mundane responsibilities, loving like Jesus loves when it’s far from easy. Those are just as impossible in my own strength.

Only by God’s grace. Only by His strength. That’s part of the reason for these situations: for our growth and faith, yes, but also so people will see it’s Him.

That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, Lord, hast done it. Psalm 109:27

Even knowing all that, my default response is usually to quiver and say, “I can’t.” And I truly can’t. But He can, through me. And like Peter, who was asked the impossible action of walking on water, I need to keep my eyes not on the boisterous winds and waves, not on the circumstances that would make it impossible, but on Him.

Abide in me, and I in you. 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

For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.Luke 1:37-38

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. 2 Corinthians 12:9

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Glimpses, Literary Musing Monday,
Tell His Story, Coffee For Your Heart, Porch Stories, Faith on Fire, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday)

27 thoughts on “When God Asks the Impossible

  1. Beautiful truth!
    And I”m reminded of Elisabeth Elliot’s hammering on the phrase: “Do the next thing.” (Or to be more exact, since it came from an Olde Poem: Do the Nexte Thinge”
    Stretch out a hand, fill a pot with water, wash in the pool: it’s amazing how often Jesus required cooperation with Him in his accomplishment of the supernatural.

    • Good reminder of that poem and truth. Sometimes that’s my biggest obstacle: being daunted by looking at the long haul or the size of the mountain instead of just taking the next step in faith.

  2. We are but clay in His hands , He will provide the need strength . Go do it and He will give more for the next change .

  3. Just shared your post on my facebook page. Yes, we can do the impossible but only with God. I loved your clear points that not everything is ours to do. Like many people, God has asked me to do the impossible in many situations. I learned how to take one step at a time into the impossible with God. I have not regretted a minute of it. Of course, I have wished for different circumstances, less pain, and cried out to God, “you can’t be serious.” In that, I found he has big shoulders and is amazing.

    • Thanks for sharing! Even though God has been faithful in these things in the past, I still have a tendency to hesitate, or dread, instead of facing them in faith. I would not have chosen some of them – but God is so good to stretch us and our dependency on Him.

  4. Love this. I especially love the observation that Jesus asked the guy to do specifically what he couldn’t do on his own …

  5. Great post. Over the years while Raising my son with special needs, I heard that line a lot, “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle.” I use to become upset, because I wasn’t strong to handle raising him. Yet, as the years went by, I learned that raising my son wasn’t on my strength, but the strength of God, through Him, I can do anything. (Looks like I just go a blog post for myself – just from that thought. ) Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Charlene! Being a mom is hard in itself – adding special needs on top is even more challenging. I’m so glad you’re finding your strength in Him!

  6. I know I’ve had my share of times when I’ve quivered and said I couldn’t, too, Barbara. I often forget that He brings things into my life in order to help me to grow in knowledge and understanding of how He works. I appreciated your post today so much.

    • Thank you, Dianna. Quivering is still my default reaction, but I am trying to reduce the time it takes me to get back to a right response by focusing on His strength rather than my inability. He is so good to stretch us in these ways that we might know Him better.

  7. Oh Barbara, this is a powerful post. I’m struck by the truths in that first paragraph, the reality of which had never hit me before. How many of us would have said, ‘Lord, I can’t!!!’

    Thank you for putting this on the table today. It’s been so good to be here and to gain from your wisdom …

    • That would have been exactly my reaction – to say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t.” I am amazed that these folks immediately obeyed. It’s a rebuke to me that I too often wallow in the “I can’ts” instead of stepping out in faith and obedience, but writing out what the Lord is doing in my heart helps to remind me of His lessons.

  8. Very good words, and insight! How wonderful to know that in our weakness, He is made strong! And good reminder for us to remember that it is in the difficulties where we experience the miracles. How wonderful to know that we have a Savior who stretches our faith into deeper and more meaningful levels of understanding of Him! Blessings and hugs to you today, happy to meet you, and share in the knowledge and understanding of our dear Lord!

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  10. Barbara, Such truth here! It’s such a simple point but one I had not really thought through about how Jesus asked the two men to do exactly what they couldn’t do. That’s really impactful for me today. Thank you for these inights and Bible verses!

  11. What good thoughts in this post, Barbara. And a really good response to an adage that gets tossed around as though it’s a verse. How gracious God is not to give us too much advance notice of what’s to come!

  12. I love how you shared that scripture. I had to look it up too…because I have heard it preached before that God will not give us more than we can bear and I raise my brow like but wait.how come I feel weighted down? I am thankful for this in all the ways you put everything. What a blessing.

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