“Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder.” – C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity.
The prevailing conventional thinking out there right now says that if we just reach in a little further and try a little harder, we will get where we want to be. Whether it’s happiness we seek or the status we want or a new lifestyle we’re dreaming of, it’s waiting for us if if we just try a little harder. We simply have to go for it.
It makes sense. The underlying assumption was that you would succeed if you worked hard enough for long enough. So we tell ourselves we can do this. We need a plan. We can break or build a habit. We have what it takes—we just need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps by digging a little deeper. But what if the bootstraps are pulled as high as they can go? What if trying harder is not the answer?
Sometimes, we need help. Sometimes, we need encouragement. Sometimes, we need someone to see us through. Sometimes, we need the strength of someone more powerful than we are. Sometimes our best efforts don’t get us where we want to go. But fortunately, there is Somebody who can get us where we want to go. Ultimately, we have little control in this life, but Jesus Christ holds everything together.
Over and over in Scripture, Christ enables, heals, and changes people. Yet, we keep trying to fix ourselves by digging a little deeper. The crippled don’t make themselves walk, and the blind don’t make themselves see, and the hungry don’t feed themselves. Paul could not find strength within himself: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:1).
Success in this life is not about finding a better plan or a more sensible solution or working harder; it’s about seeking my Savior’s willing and available help. Isaiah 40:29–31 says, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 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.”
Habits are hard to break no matter how much we try, yet we keep trying. Job 9:4 says of God, “For God is so wise and so mighty. Who has ever challenged him successfully?” It’s okay if we don’t “got this” because God’s “got this.” Strength for today, hope, joy, love, peace, success—it’s found in Jesus Christ. We won’t find it by trying harder; We’ll find it by seeking the faithful and assuring the presence of our Savior.
- When is it the time to stop trying harder and give our habits to God?
- Please talk about your mindset when it comes to your habits. What needs to shift in your mindset in order to toggle your habits to God?