You Can('t) Do It

I wonder how you go at recognising your own limitations. If you’re like me, probably not very well.

We are a highly intelligent and capable creation - image bearers of God. But we’re not God.

It can be so easy to try and be somebody’s saviour. This is rarely intentional, but very easy to slip into.

Being there for someone in need can translate to fixing their problems.

A listening ear can turn into a rapid tongue.

A desire to love becomes an imperative to save.

Jesus tells us that the law is summed up as:


Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.
— Mark 12:30-31

Notice what he doesn’t say - ‘love God and save your neighbour’.

No, we are to love our neighbour as ourselves. In the same way as we can’t save ourselves, we can’t save others. Yes - we are to make disciples - baptising them in the name of God. But the work of heart change is left to One far greater than ourselves.

When it comes to caring for those in need, particularly those struggling with mental illness, our love for our neighbour can so often blur into a self-imposed expectation to save them. But we can’t.

This is both profoundly confronting and liberating.

Confronting, because it means we aren’t ultimately able to ‘fix’ anybody. And this can hurt.

Liberating, because it means God doesn’t put an expectation on us that we can’t live up to.

Our prayer is both ‘God, why?’ and ‘God, I’m thankful that you don’t ask me to be you’. Our limitations are both a heartache and a relief.

Do we carry on walking beside those we love who are in despair? Absolutely. Can we offer advice and support? Of course. But let’s remember that the real work of healing, restoration and salvation is God’s. And so take your concerns to him in prayer.


Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
— Matthew 11:28-30

That promise is equally as true for the sufferer as it is for the carer.


Chris Cipollone