When God Gives You More Than You Can Handle
My absolute least favorite Christian catch-phrase has to be “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Does anyone actually think it is true? I mean, if you are willing to spout that nonsense to someone, you surely must’ve not encountered much turmoil in your life. 
Let’s consider for just a moment that the phrase is true. Would stating it to someone in the middle of a scary diagnosis, a sick child, an ugly divorce (or anything else for that matter) make them feel better? I sincerely doubt it. Even worse, could it cause them to waiver in their faith? I can almost hear the voices in their head saying things like, “I don’t feel like I can handle this, so what’s wrong with me? Maybe God really isn't good.” I’m imploring you to stop repeating this phrase in times of trouble. Strike it from your vocabulary altogether.
I believe that God often allows things to continue in our lives for our own good. Oh, don’t mishear me. God didn’t make your child ill, make your spouse fall out of love, or give you a scary medical diagnosis. God is good. Period. All of the aforementioned things are a result of a fallen world, our sin nature, and continual litany of terrible choices. 
Genesis chapter three tells us that when God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, He told Adam he would toil all the days of his life. Eve was told that she would suffer in childbirth. (I don’t know about you ladies out there, but I have a little bone to pick with her when I meet her on the other side of the veil over that one.) Life was going to be full of challenges as a result of their choice to disobey God and sin.
When God kicked them out, it was for their own good. No. Really. Stick with me here because it’s about to get good. 
What was in the middle of the Garden of Eden? Two trees, right? One was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The other was the Tree of Life. God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden after their eyes were opened to good and evil. Why would He do that? I think He did it out of great love for them. If they would have then eaten from the Tree of Life, they would have been forever separated from God. His great love for them caused Him to banish them from the garden and remove the temptation. I don’t know about you, but that is both deeply reassuring and deeply troubling.
With that background, let’s go back to “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” In the case of Adam and Eve (and the entire start of this fallen world we live in) God absolutely handed it out to them. Things snowballed from there. If you are a woman who has birthed a baby, you know a little about pain you don’t think you can bear. If you have lost a loved one, you likely know about a heartbreak that felt like more than you can bear. We, as humans, know turmoil and pain.
How we deal with that pain makes all the difference in the world. Do we grumble, curse, and shake our fist at the sky? If we are being honest, yes, yes we do. Anyone that says they don’t is either Jesus or a liar. But what about after the initial anger/sadness/despair/heartache passes and we settle into the dull ache? What do we do when there is no end in sight to the situation? What do we do when the crisis is really over, but we are left with pieces of our heart missing? What do we do when we are certain that we’ve either reached the end of our rope or discovered that it’s actually a noose?
What we do next is everything. What we do next is the whole reason I brought up this topic. We have two choices in this space. We can turn our back on God and say, “Since I am suffering without release, there must be no God or at least no loving God.” Or, we can lean in, listen to that still, small voice and trust. 
My priest posted a status update on Facebook that has caused me to ponder these things this week. Father Stavros said, “Faith is not about finding the reasons for the bad things that happen to people. Faith is when we continue walking even when we can’t find a reason.”
I’ve had worse weeks than this one for sure, but the stress is there this week just the same. My husband had to make an emergency trip to Ohio and his father passed away (not unexpectedly) Friday evening. A couple of my kids are going through some challenges that Mama can’t swoop in and fix anymore. (Bigger kids = bigger issues…..I’d give just about anything to be bandaging scraped knees again!) Our house is going on the market this coming week. Life is busy and full and there are heartaches. Nothing unexpected or even unusual…..just….STUFF. 
All this “stuff” is absolutely more than I can handle. It is. God in His infinite wisdom knows that I’m woefully unequipped to handle all that is being thrown at me. He also knows that NOTHING is too much for Him.
The real statement that we could gently (that word is very important….don’t miss it!) be making to folks as we love on them and minister to them is this:
God will never give you more than you and He can handle together.
We aren’t meant to deal with things alone. Far from it. We are meant to love God and trust Him to walk us through every single challenge we face. When we do just that we find that no matter the outcome of our trial, He is still good and faithful. Our trials are for our sanctification. That is worth believing!

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