Recently I faced a particularly difficult challenge when there was a health crisis in my family—one that couldn’t be overcome in a day, or even weeks or months, as it turned out. Eventually the situation caused me to reexamine my approach to life’s difficulties in general. How much did God expect me to do, and how much did He want me to trust Him to do in answer to my prayers? Did I need to work harder or pray more?
I try to live by the maxim, “Do what you can, and God will do what you can’t,” but the truth is that it’s usually easier for me to work a little harder at what I think I can do than it is to wait patiently for God to do His part. So in this case I worked a little harder. Pretty soon I got the idea that God could use some help with His part, and that I was just the man for the job. So I worked a little harder still, and wound up worn out, frustrated, discouraged, and wondering where I had gone wrong. Finally I got the point: My own plans, carried out in my own strength, could only take me so far—which was nowhere, really, compared to how far God could take me if I would follow His plan and let Him do what He alone could do.
Yes, God does expect us to do what we can, but even in that we must learn to rely on His strength. We need to make sure that our works aren’t self-works, but rather that we’re letting God decide what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, and then depending on Him to do it through us. “‘Not by [your] might nor by [your] power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6). That’s the secret to both happiness and success!