Limitations: Gift or Burden?

If I were ever asked to choose a superpower, it would definitely be to get things done in split seconds. I hate limits. I want more strength than I already have. If there’s an attribute God has that I envy, it is his Omnipresence and Omnipotence. I wish I could be everywhere at any time and do everything without getting fatigued. But unfortunately, I am limited in what I can or cannot do. Daily, I am plagued with the reality of my limitations, and honestly, it can be daunting.

As a wife, I have limited ability to fulfil impulsive decisions. As a mom of rapidly growing toddlers, I have limitations on time, sleep, energy and sometimes all of them together. For some of us, a physical illness might limit us from doing some physical activities we wish to participate in. For others, it could be that our jobs or school life take so much of us, limiting our social interactions. Whatever it is, our limitations can leave us feeling defeated, desperate and discouraged. 

We are prone to try to do more than we know our limits can allow. As a result, we easily fall prey to over-commitment and under-delivering. Instead of embracing the reality of our limitations, we give a foothold to frustrations and allow them to control us. What, then, does scripture encourage us to do about our limitations?

Our Limitations are Ingrained

Though we were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), humanity’s limitations existed before the fall. After creating man, he made known to him the limits of his existence (Genesis 2:17). So, by design, humanity exists within the limits that God has defined (Acts 17:26). Humanity’s limits are at the core of our existence. Consider the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “There where the boundary–the tree of knowledge–stands, there stands also the tree of life, that is, the very God who gives life. God is at once the boundary and the centre of our existence.” Therefore, we can safely say that the boundaries God has set around us are for our good. 

God Has No Limits 

God is self-existent; He existed before time, exists within time, and when time elapses (Psalm 90:2, Isaiah 57:15). He has no beginning nor end; he is the beginning and end (Revelation 22:13). Everything in the world had a beginning;(Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-3,10); time, space, matter, animals, humans, etc. These are all from God. Thus, God cannot be confined to time, matter and space because he exists outside of it, yet he is also in it. God is immaterial, immortal and eternal. He is not confined within any limits. From Him are all things, and in him, all things hold together (John 1:3, Romans 11:36, Colossians 1:16-17). God is the only limitless being, and he is the one who determines the limits within which creation operates. 

The Humanity of Christ 

Christ, in his humanity, was free from the bondage of sin but not from human limitations. Though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:6-7). “And living in a fallen world, Jesus voluntarily assumed the infirmities common to our fallen humanity.” He was born into a family and was under his parents’ authority at a young age; he hungered (Matthew 4:2), thirsted (John 4:7), was tempted (Matthew 4:1-11) and was wearied (John 4:6). “As Jesus lived a fully human life, he had the ability to exercise his divine power and authority, but he willingly chose to obey his Father’s will for us and for our salvation.”

Where does that leave us? Well, if we end at that, we can either grow arrogant or fall into despair. Of course, God wouldn’t want us to be in either of those positions. The following are two conclusions we can draw concerning our limitations. 

Good Gifts 

God saw everything that he had made, and it was very good. Our limits are God’s good gift to us. God has placed every boundary and limit for our growth, flourishing and sanctification. No good thing does he withhold from us (Psalm 84:11). He gives good and perfect gifts to us without variation (James 1:17). Since God works everything for our good (Romans 8:28), we can trust that the limitations he has placed on us can be trusted. Adam and Eve fell into Satan’s cunning deception leading them to see their creaturely limits as faults instead of gifts and barriers that kept them from obtaining divine qualities. Limitations are not a consequence of sin. However, because of sin’s existence, they feel burdensome and come with the pressure to constantly try to be something we are not and can never be. Unfortunately, some of these limits are painful and are a constant reminder of the brokenness of this world because of sin’s existence. 

They Remind Us to Depend on God

The limitations of our humanity will only exist while we are on this side of eternity (James 4:14). When we are glorified, we will not be bounded by limits any more. Today, they remind us of the surpassing power that belongs to God and not us (2 Corinthians 4:7). They remind us of God’s sovereignty and our constant need to anchor ourselves on him and draw strength from him. Like a child is to his parent, so are we to God our Father. 

Evidently, there is beauty in humanity’s limitations. That a limitless God gets to care for his limited creation. Oh, What Joy! Only when we see his goodness in our limitations can we begin to experience God’s power as we await eternity with him. 

References

1. You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic 

2. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/the-humanity-of-christ/ 

3. https://www.crossway.org/articles/are-christs-human-limitations-permanent/ 

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