“I can’t take it anymore!”
Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. I usually spend those days off and on in a puddle of tears. And all the Little Debbie snack cakes I pull from the stash in our closet can’t make it better.
Runners call it “the wall.” In marathons it happens within the final few miles. They say you feel like you’re running on empty and have nothing left. But the runners who just keep putting one foot in front of the other and don’t give up finish the race.
In childbirth, they call it transition. After hours of labor, the contractions are so intense that mom feels she’s not up to the task. When she cries out, “I can’t do this,” that’s a sure sign that baby’s almost here.
In fact, when I was laboring with our first baby, I remember saying those exact words. After he was born, I thought: This. Will. Be. Our. Only. Child. Because I can never do that again. Yet, I labored again 3 years later when our little girl was born. And I must’ve said “I can’t do this” a hundred times before she arrived.
All of these examples show us we can endure more than we think. I look at our current life circumstances and wonder—how are we going to make this work for years ahead? I’m completely overwhelmed at the prospect. Yet I felt the very same way when Michael’s health struggles began seven years ago. And here we are, still moving forward.
Several of our friends and family members have endured sickness and hardship for decades. I’ll bet they were overwhelmed at the beginning of their journey, too. We marvel at how they persevere faithfully after so much suffering.
When we feel like we can’t go on, how do we press on?
I think there are three keys to long-term endurance in the midst of intense difficulty.
- Don’t think too far ahead. Forget about the miles in front of you, the hours of labor, or the years of struggle. Only focus on putting one foot in front of the other, living through the next moment without quitting or losing your mind. Even Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
2. Take a break. When Elijah got to the end of his rope, he begged God, “Please, just kill me already” (1 Kings 19 paraphrased). God replaced his despair with truth, gave him rest, and fed him a meal.
3. Trust. The Bible says that God’s grace is sufficient for whatever each day holds. Paul told the Corinthians, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8) Whether your day is filled with struggle or offers some welcome relief, He can give you what you need to keep going.
So the next time you say to yourself “I can’t take it anymore!” don’t look at the long road ahead. (And for goodness sake, put down those Little Debbies!) Focus only on the next moment. Give yourself a break. And know that He will help you press on.