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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dispelling a Common Saying

"God will never give you more than you can handle."

OR how about this one...

"God only chooses special people to handle ___________ (fill in your trial) because He knows they are strong enough to endure it."

Those sound like great sayings that come out of the wisdom of Solomon's book of Proverbs, right?  Well, when you find them, let me know.  I'm no theologian, but that must be in Proverbs 32.

I fully understand that sometimes people say things like that because they are very well-intentioned and they want to provide some words of comfort, but they just don't know what to say.  I'm know that I have even both thought and said those things multiple times in the course of my lifetime.  As I have come to experience more trials and suffering in my life, I have also come to find that many of those well-intentioned sayings are simply hogwash (and that's actually the nice word for what I'd like to call them).

It was only in the last couple of months that an older, wiser sister-in-Christ pointed out the falsehood of the above particular sayings out to me.  The truth of it is that the only thing God says He won't give us beyond what we can bear is temptation (1 Cor. 10:13).  You want to know why I think God gives us more than we can handle?  It's simple.  So we rely on His strength and not our own.  Jesus even cried out in Matthew 26:39 for God to take away the cross because He knew it would be too much to handle.  But God didn't take it away.  It was THE necessary part of His story of redemption.  

"For my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  ~2 Cor. 12:9

If I was strong enough to handle it on my own, the fullness of Christ's strength would never be shown.

I'll just tell you from my own experience.  Losing a baby after a year of trying to get pregnant, having premature multiples, raising multiples, losing another baby, and experiencing normal marital issues are amongst the biggest things that God has allowed in my life that I absolutely can't handle.  The above sayings say that I should feel "special" for being chosen for these things.  Like I have some superhuman strength that many others around me simply do not have.  Guess what?  I'm tired of being on these "special lists."  People often ask me how I can handle having twins.  My answer, "I do what has to be done because they are my children and I love them."  It's a choice to accept the responsibility that God has given me.  I could just as easily choose to not accept it as many people do.

If we follow the above logic, that means that God made a mistake when He allowed certain people to become parents who then go on to drive their van into an ocean because what God had given them must have been too much to handle.  We don't have to look far to find people miserably fail to handle their trials or just normal circumstances of life.  I can promise you that I am not any more special or better equipped to handle certain situations in life than the next person.

The above sayings take away the personal responsibility we have to make the choice to obey God or not.  We don't get to blame God when things get too hard and we make a decision to bail.  I make several small choices a day to obey God.  Obedience starts in the small choices so that we are able to stay obedient in the big choices.

What does God expect of us though when we find ourselves in a trial that He's allowed in our lives that really is more than we can bear?  I think we can find the answer in Scripture:

"God is our refuge and strength; an ever-present help in time of trouble."  ~Psalm 46:1

"I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."  ~Lamentations 3:24

"Be still, and know that I am God; and I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  ~Psalm 46:10

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  ~Matthew 11:28

He wants us to come to Him.  He wants us to make daily choices to trust Him and find our sufficiency and strength in Him.  The next time you find yourself needing to provide words of comfort and encouragement to someone who is hurting around you, think carefully about the words you offer.  We can't always say what God is and isn't going to do...what God will and won't allow...or why God allows certain things in our lives.  God has a purpose and it is far beyond our understanding (Isaiah 55:8)

**As previously noted, I am no theologian.  Please feel free to correct me with scriptural truth if I am in error.  :)