More than you can handle

Dear Glen Mar Friends,

“God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, you know.” The lady behind me in the store was on her cell phone, on speaker, on high volume. “It’s just the truth.” I bit my lip and vowed again never to do that speakerphone thing to other people in public. I did the mental calculation of whether to speak or be silent as the guy scanned my groceries. She hung up and I thought, “Well, here goes.” I tried to sound nonchalant and not like One of Those Religious Nuts. I cleared my throat. I said, “Hello.” (See, you have to be so erudite, so super-genius-y, to be able to talk to people). She said hi back. I said, “They have nice corn on the cob today….” And then I said, “By the way, I was NOT listening to your conversation or anything, but about that God not giving us more than we can handle thing…”

I said, in my experience, God provided the help I needed to get through impossibly hard times, and when I was driven to my knees, God was there. I may or may not have talked about Elijah and the Broom Tree. She laughed at the funny parts and seemed receptive.

What folks think about is probably 1 Corinthians 10: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 

In the context of temptation, Paul’s encouragement is to lean on God to resist it and look for a “way out” that is not to sin.

However, when people pull out from this the idea that “God will never give us more than we can handle,” we tend to think every burden and trial and tribulation is a. sent from God and b. for US to bear heroically while God sits by and watches. I think neither of those things are true. Trials and tribulations and tragedies are part of what it means to be human. Sometimes our suffering is the result of our own bad choices, and other times, it’s just because we are human, and we live in an imperfect world. And God does not just add on weight and watch us carry it.

No, God bears our griefs, and suffers with us, and sits with us, and sends the Spirit to pray for us when we cannot, with sighs too deep for words. The burden is not on us to carry stoically the wounds of life. Instead, we should realize that we can lean on God, that we are not alone, and let God carry our burdens, when, as will happen, we end up with “more than we can handle.” The Bible is full of people who ended up with (way) more than they could handle on their own. And they cried out to God for help, for justice, and for comfort (and help with the carrying).

Having way more than YOU can handle is a great opportunity to remember that YOU are not called to “handle” it on your own. “Cast all your anxiety on him (God), because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.

See you in Church,