Trying Harder Is Not the Answer

There’s thinking out there right now that if we just reach in a little further and try a little harder and find that part of ourselves that’s been hiding—we’ll finally get there. Wherever “there” may be. Whether it’s happiness we seek or status we want or a new lifestyle we’re dreaming of, it’s waiting for us if we’d just try a little harder. If we’d just finally tap into ourselves and go for it.

So we make a plan and step into it with passion. I can do this, we tell ourselves. I’ve got this. I can be a good mom. I can control my temper. I can say “no” to that package of cookies. I can make it through the day. I can love my husband. I can be a good friend. I can serve at church. I’ve got what it takes—I just need to try harder.

“You’ve got this girl! Pull up your bootstraps,” says the world, “and dig deeper!” Okay, yes, I can do this . . . I can do this . . . I can do this . . . I tell myself until my youngest has serious sock issues and refuses to put on his shoes (when we’re already late for school), and I find myself yelling and flustered and stressed again—even though I said I wouldn’t. Even though I had my bootstraps up as high as they’ll go.

Because Trying Harder Is Not the Answer

I can tell myself to hold it together—come on, Stacey, you’ve got this. But I will be disappointed every time because the truth is, I don’t “got this.” The truth is, I need help. I need endurance. I need encouragement from somewhere other than social media. I need something real to carry me through. Something more powerful than myself. The strength of Someone other than me.

Because here’s the bottom line: I mess up, but there’s One who never does. I’m not perfect, but there’s One who always is. I can’t see the future, but there’s One who holds the future in His hand. Ultimately, I have little control in this life, but Jesus Christ holds all things together.

Over and over in Scripture, it’s Christ who enables and heals and changes people. Yet, we keep trying to fix ourselves. But the crippled don’t make themselves walk, and the blind don’t make themselves see, and the hungry don’t feed themselves. It’s God who supplies their needs. Even Paul—a missionary above all missionaries—did not find strength within himself, as he stated in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

True Enabling Comes Through Christ

Success in this life is not about finding a better plan or a more sensible solution or digging deeper into myself; it’s about seeking the willing and available help of my Savior. Isaiah 40:29–31 says,

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Yet we still try on our own. Wanting to be enough, we pursue our own glory and end up defeated. Job 9:4 says of God, “He is wise in heart and mighty in strength—who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?” No one, that’s who. In contrast Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.”

Why? Because if it’s God’s glory you seek, then it’s God’s will you will seek. You will allow the Spirit of God who dwells within you (and every believer) to enable as God intends—helping, guiding, and encouraging you in the right direction. But when our affections are misplaced and our pursuits are not of God, we restrict God’s power and ability within us (2 Cor. 6:12). One of those misplaced quests is the pursuit of self-reliance.

Experiencing Christ’s Enabling Starts with Weakness

Admitting I am not enough is the first step to finding my strength in Christ. The world tells us to hide our weaknesses, but the Bible says to embrace them. The world says we are strong enough, but the Bible says we are not.

Jesus says in John 15:4, “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.” Contrary to popular belief, we cannot live a godly life apart from Christ. We are weak, but He is strong. We will fall short, but He never does. And embracing that reality, admitting our need, and being okay with not being sufficient in and of ourselves—that’s where it starts.

The apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:30, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” Why would we do this? So that God may be glorified and not ourselves. Our goal as believers is not to fool the world into thinking we are strong enough, but to show the world that Christ is more than enough. That in Christ, we can do this life well. We persevere, not because of some great secret we found or plan we finally stuck with, but because of the undeniable strength of our Savior.

It’s Not About Me—It’s About Him

Success in life is not about finding some deep inner forte I haven’t tapped into yet, but it’s about living in and through the power of God. It’s not about sticking to a plan; it’s about sticking to Christ. And if Christ is not part of our plan, then we need a new plan—a plan that looks like worshipping in the wait and believing Scripture, reminding ourselves of truth and praying it to the Father.

“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually” (1 Chron. 16:11) and you will know the uplifting hand of the Father. “In quietness and in trust shall be your strength” (Isa. 30:15). “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Eph. 6:10).

My friend, trying harder is not the answer—Christ is the answer. His Spirit working through me, while I’m firm and fixed on His faithfulness, is better than any other earth-bound provision. I don’t need to be stronger; I need to be settled in Jesus. I don’t need to dig deeper into myself; I need to dig deeper into the Scriptures.

Don’t seek yourself—seek the Lord. Failure waits on the other side of self-seeking, but the soul who seeks the Lord will not be ashamed. God’s well of perseverance never runs dry. He makes known to me the path of life, and in His presence is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11).

It’s okay if you don’t “got this.” In fact, it’s more than okay because God’s “got this.” Strength for today, hope, joy, love, peace, success—it’s found in Jesus Christ. I won’t find it by trying harder; I’ll find it by seeking the faithful and assuring presence of my Savior.

About the Author

Stacey Salsbery

Stacey Salsbery

Stacey Salsbery is a farmer’s wife and mother of four—or as she likes to say, “President of Home Operations.” Stacey loves teaching women the Bible and along with her family makes her home in the cornfields of Indiana. For more, … read more …

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