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What CAN I Do?

Many of us have experienced seasons of illness and injury––either our own or someone we love. Often these excruciating times of pain, fear, and doubt engulf us like a suffocating suffering. We wake up every morning in painful uncertainty and lay down each night in the same state. Daily we withstand a raging storm––everything circles around but nothing is clear. Movement requires pushing against unyielding barriers. We want to hope for complete healing. We want to throw off the heavy chains encasing us. We want to be released from physical and emotional burdens so we can regain strength and enjoy life again.

But sometimes the hope we cling to feels as secure as a thin thread precariously leading us through the dark tempest. We wonder why the God of resurrection and new life won’t speak a word of healing or reach out His hand to touch us.

I struggle too.

For six years now I’ve been fighting through chronic pain from recurring injuries. The last six months have been particularly hard. Not only does chronic pain make even the simplest daily tasks more difficult, but it prevents me from engaging in my most favorite thing: RUNNING. 

Running is my happy place. Running is my time with Jesus when I soak up His inspiration and compose my best work. Running is my primary stress release. So the inability to run stifles my creativity and outlook, and it opens the door to frustration and even depression.

A few weeks ago––after unfruitful months of specialists, procedures, and therapy––I was blessed with the opportunity to spend a long weekend with my sister who’s a physical therapist. On our first day together, she graciously assessed my injuries and treatments. I lamented about my inability to do basic daily tasks without pain. I mourned over my inability to run. And my sister wisely responded, “Yes, there are many things you can’t do right now. But what’s important is to focus on what you CAN do. Ask yourself each day, ‘What CAN I do?’”

Hmmm. What CAN I do?

Simple. Profound. Since that day I’ve pondered the depth of this question. I’ve considered what this means for my daily physical challenges. I’ve meditated on the implications for my spiritual journey. I’ve wondered what impact this question might have for all of us who struggle as Christ-followers in this fallen world.

What CAN I do?  What CAN you do?

My encouragement for you today is to sit at the feet of Jesus and talk with Him about this question. Ask Him: Lord, what CAN I do?

If your challenges relate to physical limitations, relational strife, emotional grief, vocational uncertainty, or overwhelming daily responsibilities: Lord, what CAN I do today?

If you struggle with spiritual reality, how to interpret the Bible, or how to know for sure where your life is headed: Lord, what CAN I do today?

No single answer emerges from this focused yet open-ended question. That’s the beauty and the power: Lord, what CAN I do?

  • Maybe what you CAN do is take a walk outside or slowly take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Maybe what you CAN do is view the project you’re working on today as an offering to God.
  • Maybe what you CAN do is choose to forgive, or apologize for your contribution to a disagreement.
  • Maybe what you CAN do is reach out to someone who knows your grief so they can come sit with you as you mourn.
  • Maybe what you CAN do is pray and fast for a friend in need and then send them an encouraging text.
  • Maybe what you CAN do is to set a timer for 30 minutes and sit quietly before the Lord with no agenda but to be present and listen.

What CAN I do?

The answer will be different for each one of us. But for all of us, the response ushers in freedom and an opportunity to join Christ and others in our journey forward. Even if pain persists, our praise and endurance will transcend our challenges. Even if our circumstances don’t change, our mindset will. Even if we physically can’t run again, the race marked out for us will lead to victory (Hebrews 12:1–3).

Friend, I’m praying for you today as you ask: What CAN I do?

“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

Amen! Let it be!

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Joy Dahl

Dr. Joy Dahl is a Jesus girl transformed by God’s grace. Through many trials she has learned to rise above the depths of real life by holding fast to truth and hope. Today Joy passionately helps believers embrace their calling as Christ’s ambassadors in the world. Much of Joy’s career has focused on startup and high-growth companies in Washington, D.C. and New York, and for 10 years she provided Chief Financial Officer services through her consulting practice. Joy earned three degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary: Master of Christian Education, Master of Biblical Studies, and Doctor of Ministry. Her emphasis on the integration of faith and work led to her current role as Executive Director of Polished Network, an organization which gathers professional women to navigate career and explore faith together. Joy and her husband, Gordon, now call Dallas home. Joy’s favorite things include: God's Word, international travel, dark chocolate, horses, flowers, beach getaways, running, big dogs, and adventure!