Surrender Your “I Can’t”

December 9, 2015  - By Gretchen Saffles

“I can’t, Lord,” I caught myself saying today when my heart became overwhelmed with my never ending to-do list of housework and projects. I glanced over at the overflowing basket of laundry sitting next to my desk, the empty boxes that have now turned into “waste baskets” tossed on the floor, the pile of notes I need to write, and I felt defeated. “I can’t” seemed to be plastered all over my office and house. The enemy reminds me all day long of the things “I can’t” do or get done. 

“I can’t get everything done I need to…I can’t be the best mom and the best wife I need to be…I can’t do everything well.” 

I’ve always tried to do everything. In college, I found myself filling every hour of the day from dawn till dusk with coffee dates, study sessions, work, and every other activity I could think of to add to the list! With no margin for rest, I was exhausted at the end of everyday. I mistakenly tried to find my identity in my full planner rather than in my walk with Jesus. I allowed what I did to define me instead of what Christ has done to set me free. After years of trying to do everything and realizing I kept coming up short, it dawned on me that I can’t do everything. As a new mom who is also a business owner and a wife to a husband on staff at our church, I am learning that my “I can’t’s” are meant to be my daily surrender to the Lord. 

I can’t be everything to everyone. I can’t complete every to-do on my list. I can’t be the best friend, wife, mom, sister, and creative that God has called me to be. I can’t do these things in my own strength. When I try to, I come up short. I am not meant to be defined by what I do and what I can’t do. Christ is my life and He is my identity.

Our inabilities and “I can’t” thoughts weren’t meant to discourage us. They were meant to be arrows pointing us to Christ, Who can.

I am learning that we have two choices to make each day of what we are going to do with our “I can’t” thoughts. We can either dwell on them and choose to disobey God’s call on our life and His blessings. OR we can hand them to Jesus and trade them for His strength. We can give them to Him and trust Him to help us be the wives, moms, creatives, friends, workers, and daughters He created us to be. Our “I can’t” thoughts are meant to be our material for sacrifice. The truth is, we can’t do all we are called to do apart from Him. But with Him? We can do all things.

Moses responded to God’s call on his life to lead the Israelites out of slavery with “I can’t.” God’s response to Moses in Exodus 2 was Himself. He comforted Moses with His name, I AM WHO I AM. He also confronted Moses’ inadequacies with HIs strength. The Lord took Moses’ “I can’t” excuses and gave them something better than a pat on the back and a “you can do it, Moses!” God gave Moses Himself. He gave Moses His strength. 

Philippians 4:13 is one of the most common coffee cup verses as well as one of the most misinterpreted verse. This verse is often read with the focus on “I can” at the beginning of the verse instead of the two words that change everything – “through Christ.” Without Jesus, we are left hopeless and run-down by a list of to-do’s that can never be done. Instead of dwelling on all we can’t do, we can look to Jesus Who can and rejoice in His strength.

“I can’t” is an opportunity for surrender and worship to Jesus. He can do all things and has equipped you for your calling. Let go of your “I can’t” you and let the fact that He can propel you to obey His Word. Trade your inadequacies for His strength and let your weaknesses be an opportunity for Him to be strong. 

I can’t…but He can. In that, I surrender and I rejoice. 


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  1. Lily says:

    Such a good thought, to rely on God for our strength. We cannot do all the world would have us believe we can do, but we can do all that God would have us to do if we rely on Him for the strength. He satisfies all needs.

  2. says:

    I have that planner in black stripes! 😀 It makes me feel so professional and organized, even if it’s full of crayon drawings from my sweet 18-month-old girl and lists of things to do.

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