“I Can’t Do This!”

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me.”

Numbers 11:14

“Is any among you Scottish? Let him confess his stoic and ridiculous refusal to ask for help—ever.” That’s not in the Bible, of course. But many of us (and not just those with “Mc”s before our surnames) are loathe to admit we’re stretched beyond our capacity to cope.

Moses knew he needed help. The Israelites (yes, the same ones who were singing praises to God for his very recent deliverance of them) had grown bitter and restless. Even though God was raining down manna for them every morning, they were crying for the food of their slave days in Egypt. Their discord spread like a bad flu; they had been wonderfully blessed, but not in the way they preferred.

As they grumbled to each other, Moses—their leader—cried out to God. He, too, was at the end of his rope. God had given him charge of this people and made him a leader of their exodus. And now they wanted to return to captivity! Moses might have tried to “soldier on” and manage the unrest out of his own strength. Instead, he said—rightly and truly—“God, I cannot do this!”

Leaders need rescue, too. Those in positions of responsibility don’t have all the answers—whether they are pastors, employers, parents, or teachers. God did answer the desperate cry of Moses. By putting together a “support team” of advisors and empowering them with his Spirit, God visibly undergirded his man for the task at hand.

Why do we imagine there is shame in telling God, “I can’t do this”? There is none. “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Ps. 103:14). God welcomes the honest prayer of his desperate and weak servants. We need never pretend with him.


Are you taking on more than you can handle alone? Who can you go to for help?


Heavenly Father, we confess that we struggle with pride. It is hard to ask for help—even when we are desperate for it. We are thankful that you hear our cries when we call on you. You have shown us your greatness and your strong hand; there is no god in heaven or on earth who can do such mighty works as you. We need you, and we need not pretend otherwise. Amen.


The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailingand said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” …

Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you …

So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied—but did not do so again.

However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”

But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”

Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29

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