“I Can’t!”  How many times in our lives have we said these words?  Join Pastor Steve Hofmeister as he shares his exploration into “I can’t” and its relationship to doubt, and how these can be defeated with faith in Jesus Christ.

Podcast Transcript

Have you ever taken the time to recount how many times you have said ‘I Can’t’? I recently responded to a young man on Facebook who was asking for help because he couldn’t quit smoking. Being a former smoker myself I asked him to really evaluate himself and his issue. I asked him to consider what aspects of quitting are providing him difficulty. Sometimes when you analyze the problem you come to discover that your can’t turns into a won’t. Now of course I know not every situation is so cut and dry. My quitting smoking was abrupt following a major heart attack, I was scared straight. If you take the time to really think about your own can’t moments how many of them were true won’t moments? I bet you will find there are quite a few. I know I have quite a list, especially here of late.

I have realized that can’t usually come from or is closely related to doubt. I have considered four points of doubt that come with the word can’t.

  • We say we can’t because we doubt our own abilities or knowledge.
  • We say we can’t because we doubt our trust in someone else.
  • We say we can’t because we doubt our safety or the environment we are in.
  • We say we can’t because we doubt our faith in God or the power of God..

So let’s look into what God’s word says about doubt:

In Isaiah Chapter 40 verses 26-31, Isaiah writes about the boundless influence of God,

Look up into the heavens.
Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles?
O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29   He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31   But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:26-31

This is the basis of faith. When we lose sight of the boundless power of God we start to question our own abilities, we allow evil to weaken our trust in both our fellow man and our God. No, God does not turn us into superman/superwoman, but he can empower us to overcome our struggles and doubts.

Doubt, discouragement, and difficulty are big topics in the Bible. Either through evil influence or life circumstances, these are all aspects of humanity that are expected in everyone’s life journey. These moments like many we encounter come down to how you approach and handle them, as we now read in James Chapter 1 verses 2-8:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
5   If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6   But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
James 1:2-8 (NLT)

Now, let’s re-explore our can’t / won’t situation now that we have read these two segments of scripture.

Imagine being in a hot air balloon. On takeoff, the pilot falls out and you are left alone lifting up and into the current of the breeze. In that moment would you say I CAN’T do anything to change the situation and prepare for the worst or will you try to understand how to control the balloon to cushion you from a violent fall?

In another case you might say, I WON’T do anything sit down at the bottom of the basket and accept that you are likely going to die or face serious injury. I would hope your need for self-preservation would not allow you to say won’t.

Or you would have a reasonable belief that the hot air balloon’s ability to create lift and fall has the ability to bring you down safely by firing the burner. This is faith. Trusting that the balloon has the ability to help you change the situation if you believe it can. But you have to be willing to take the controls and have the true desire to change your situation.

This is all God asks from us in our times of discouragement and doubt. To understand there is no such thing as can’t if we have faith in ourselves and faith in God. There is only won’t, that state of remaining in doubt and discouragement. But won’t does not honor ourselves, or honor our God. If you won’t make a focused effort, and won’t have faith in yourself and God then you have already placed yourself in self-defeat. Not because you can’t do it but because you won’t commit to doing it with conviction.


By Faith

by: 7eventeeth Time Down


The Apostle Paul, a man who despite once being completely against the teachings of Christ and tortured Christians became a believer, faced torture, arrest, starvation, and many other trials in the course of his ministry wrote in Philippians 4:12-14:

12   I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13   For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14   Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
Philippians 4:12-14 (NLT)

He wrote these words in appreciation to the Church in Philippi who saw to his needs while he was under house arrest for preaching the gospel. Even while under arrest and facing execution he maintained his faith. He did not give up on his ministry and say I can’t do anything. He continued to write letters of instruction, appreciation, and correction to the churches he established even while imprisoned. He continued even under pressure to stop. He never took to won’t even when it would have saved his life up until he was beheaded for his unwavering faith.

As Paul pointed out, We can do everything through Christ who strengthens us, but we have to remain faithful to ourselves and God, openhearted, and willing to overcome our doubts. It is our duty as believers to look out for the well-being of each other. We are to lean on each other in those difficult times, we should constantly check ourselves and our brothers and sisters well being this is written in Hebrews 3:12-13.

12   Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.
Hebrews 3:12-13 (NLT)

So if you are facing hard times right now, questioning your faith, or just facing tough choices. Share these with your fellow brothers and sisters, raise it in prayer, but most of all remember there is no such thing as can’t.

About Your Host

Rev. Steven D. Hofmeister

“Pastor Steve”

Pastor Steve serves as the Senior Pastor & President of Diakonos Independent Ministries of Maryland in Abingdon, Maryland.

Pastor Steve is also the host of the Quick Points with Pastor Steve Podcast on Spotify, and writes articles regularly on multiple websites. He is involved in many community oriented projects ranging from public school reform issues to general community support and outreach.