What Can I Do? I Can Do Hard Things!
I payed the parking lot attendant my two dollars and wished her a happy weekend! I pulled out my phone to ask Siri to show me how to get home, and Siri's response was, ”Just a second!" I mean really Siri what else could you possibly be doing that you have to put me on hold? I continued to ask her for directions as I drove towards the on ramp for the highway and she continued to give me similar responses. Without much hope of Siri being helpful I started the drive towards home from Nationwide Chrildren's Hospital, a place that I have frequented many times this past year, but definitely a place where I never expected I would spend so much time. Driving on busy highways and having to navigate through multiple interstate changes makes me anxious, and this is exactly how it is when we drive from our house to the hospital. Since Siri wasn't much help I was on my own to go by memory, and guess what, I did it! You know why? Because I can do hard things!
This is a mantra in our family. When our kids face challenges and overcome them we say, “What can you do?” They respond with so much confidence and energy that it fills my soul with bravery, "I can do hard things!"
As I navigated through downtown Columbus my mind wandered to all of the hard things I've done throughout my life, but especially this year. As a person whose default is fear, God continues to do a transformative work in my heart showing me that my default response doesn’t have to be fear, but rather trust and boldness because when Christ faced the challenge of death on the cross he went with boldness and confidence in the strength and will of his Father. He didn’t go without fear, but rather confessed his fear, and depended on his Father for the strength he needed.
The words of Paul in Phillippians 4:13 are words that every Christian is familiar with. "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." I hesitate to even use this verse as I write this post because of all the baggage that often goes along with it. So often these words are repeated to hurting people as though they are supposed to just put a smile on their face and continue forward. As Christians we want to sew these words into OUR super hero capes and fly through life believing that we can do it all because Christ will just give us what we need. Rather, these words are supposed to turn our eyes towards Jesus, recognizing that HE is the hero and any hard things that we do are only supposed to point us to him and his glory.
When Paul is writing this letter to the church in Philippi he is sitting in prison after being arrested for following the call that Christ gave him to tell the gospel to the Gentiles. In verses 11-13 he says:
"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty, and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
Before these verses he writes in 1:6, "I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
Jesus is working in Paul. He turned Paul's heart from stone to flesh and gave him what seemed to be an impossible task, “Go tell the Gentiles about me!” Paul knew what it meant to face suffering and he knew what it meant to be transformed by it. He is reminding the church in Philippi of the good work that God is doing and will continue to do in them.
"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." — Philippians 3:7-12.
Paul knew that Jesus was the one who called him to the hard tasks and he knew that Jesus was the one who gave him the strength to do it. Doing hard things and facing suffering means closer relationship with Jesus because we get a front row seat of seeing his strength working within us. The power of his resurrection working within us pushes back the sin, shame, fear, pride, and disbelief and allows us to step out onto the platform of the challenge and say with boldness that I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who gives me strength. Standing on this platform with boldness doesn’t mean we won’t face fear, pain, grief, or sadness, but as we stand we have freedom in Christ to face those things in the midst of pursuing something hard because we know that he is holding us by his righteous right hand!
I can, by God’s grace, face the sadness of losing two babies.
I can, by God’s grace, get through severe postpartum anxiety after having Anna
I can, by God’s grace, give birth to twins without drugs
I can, by God’s grace, face the sadness of losing my dad to cancer
I can, by God’s grace, face the unhealthiness of relationships in my life
I can, by God’s grace, face the sadness of abuse that I faced
I can, by God’s grace, repent daily of my weaknesses
I can, by God’s grace, repent daily of my strengths
I can, by God’s grace, face 4 weeks in the NICU with my fourth child
I can, by God’s grace, hear the words “Your child has Downs Syndrome.”
I can, by God’s grace, navigate a new world of raising a child with special needs
I can, by God’s grace, put my child on oxygen every night before bed
I can, by God’s grace, live faithfully in the mundaneness of being a stay at home mom
I can, by God’s grace, run a 5K
I can by God’s grace, potty train twins
I can, by God’s grace, keep trying to learn the dang guitar
I can, by God’s grace, face my daily anxiety and fear
Doing hard things this year has caused me to cling to Christ and caused me to look back and see the grace of God leading me through all of the hard things of my life. I’ve seen the power of the resurrection working in my heart leading me towards repentance and transformation. My heart has been transformed this year in ways that I never could have imagined!
What can I do? I can do hard things through the power of Christ working in and through me! Maybe one day I will go on that skydiving adventure with Drew!