When We Think We Can’t

“Ah, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” Jeremiah 1: 6

We’ve all become pretty skillful at making excuses for not doing things we think we can’t, or that we don’t want to do, haven’t we? We say such things as, “I don’t know how. I’m too busy. I’m too tired. I’m not good at that!” Most of the time it’s fairly easy to come up with one, and we can usually get out of it without feeling too guilty! But imagine giving an excuse to God Himself!

Jeremiah did just that when God called him to be a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah. God made it clear to Jeremiah that He had chosen him before His birth. Even with such spoken confidence in him by the Creator Himself, Jeremiah felt inexperienced and intimidated. His reply was, “I can’t, Lord. I don’t know how. I’m only a child.”  We know how that has gone over with us parents when our kids have said it. You can imagine how it did with God.

Yet, even though He rebuked Jeremiah a bit by saying, “Don’t say, I’m only a child!” God was direct and patient. He replied, “You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid, for I am with you and I will rescue you.”

Then the Lord reached out his hand, touched Jeremiah’s lips, and said, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.”

How many times have we wished God would do just that when we have been asked to speak and felt ill at ease! Just like Jeremiah, we too often feel inadequate to do a task we are asked to do, or even one we feel as if God is calling us to do. How reassuring it is to think that if He is calling us to do something, then He will give us the means to do it! We can trust Him to help us carry it through!

But what a task God was asking Jeremiah to do. It is believed that he was a young man of around 17, when God told him to deliver a message of judgment to His people. He wanted Jeremiah to tell them that it was because of their sins of idolatry and rebellion that the destruction of their land and their captivity was coming soon by force of the Babylonian army. We can imagine how the people must have felt hearing this message from him!

Yet, God had warned them for many years that if they continued to be unfaithful, He would punish them once again. It had been 800 years since He had brought them out of Egyptian bondage, and now He would return them to such a fate once again. Just like us today – we never seem to heed His warnings in Scripture, or take God seriously, but one thing we can be sure of is that He will keep His promises.

Jeremiah fulfilled God’s purpose for his life and did what was asked of him. Even though he was in grave danger from political and religious leaders who didn’t like his message, God protected him so he could continue to comfort those who trusted in Him. The Babylonian assault came and the people, along with Jeremiah, were taken into captivity for many years.

God will help us overcome our weaknesses and our feelings of inadequacy, just as He did Jeremiah, if we will rely on Him. When we are asked to do a difficult or seemingly impossible task, may we always remember that with God’s help, there is nothing we can’t accomplish!


Dear God, thank you for your presence in our lives and the power of your Spirit to enable us to do impossible things. Help us to have the faith to trust in you and obey faithfully, fully accepting your love and grace. Amen

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