I’m not sure that’s true…

Thursday, September 06, 2012 16 Comments A+ a-

ET-Give-more-thanSince the summer began, and specifically more often once Grandma was diagnosed, I’ve been told over and over that “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

I’ve mulled over the statement more times than I care to admit.  I’ve said it myself so many times, in situations where I want to explain away the hurt and the pain.  It’s a wonderful sentiment.  This idea that God will only give you just enough to handle, that He’s knows our breaking point and doesn’t tip the scale into Too Much.  It’s a way to offer comfort to the hurting, this idea that God knows you can handle this because you’re this strong.

“But…” I turned to Jon in the car one day, “I don’t think its true.”

This idea that its because of our own strength that God won’t give us too much to bear doesn’t seem to fit with what I know to be true of God.  I think it turns focus inward, into ourselves, and into our own strength.  After all, if we’re strong enough to handle the unthinkable, where’s the need for God at all?

God doesn’t like seeing His children hurt.  He hurts when we hurt.  “God is close to the brokenhearted…” It’s a promise, my God is compassionate and merciful in that way.  When the pain is especially sharp and raw, He is holding me and hurting with me. 

Its similar in watching Devyn and Hudson navigate the muddy waters of elementary schools, friends, classmates, and bullies.  When one comes home with hurt feelings, I hurt and ache along with them.  I don’t have to experience the hurt firsthand to ache when they ache.  The same is true of God.  He’s there in the hurt and pain, wanting to take it from me, as I want to take it from them.

But I certainly don’t think He withholds circumstances from us because we’re too weak.  WHEN I AM WEAK, HE IS STRONG.  I think when life is throwing challenge after challenge at you, God knows you’re not strong enough to handle it.  He’s simply waiting for you to turn to Him and say, “I can’t do this on my own.  I NEED you!  Its because of my strength IN you that I am able to bear this.”

God allows the hard and the painful, not as a punishment or a test, but to allow us the opportunity to depend on Him and solely Him.  We will never understand the big picture (which is a whole other post in itself) but I can trust two things…

  1. The big picture is gorgeous.  He’s placing people and circumstances in such a way as to create a Masterpiece.  The pain I feel today will be used in another piece of the puzzle tomorrow.
  2. When I allow God to work in me and through my pain, His glory is revealed.  I’m not doing this in my own strength, for that was depleted a long while ago.  Any strength or circumstance withstood, has been because of Him and His strength. 

Please don’t think I don’t appreciate the sentiment or the intent behind the statement.  That’s surely not the case.  It’s a beautiful idea and I’m thankful for the thought!  But any strength perceived in me is just that, a perception.  These days He’s carrying me, and I’m perfectly ok to be in that place. 

“Yet, I still belong to you; you hold my right hand…” Psalm 73:23

I’m a coffee drinking, book reading, laundry procrastinating, husband and children loving, mess of a woman who believes that chips and salsa can fix anything. We have chickens running around the backyard, a mountain of dishes in the sink, and on any given morning, I have at least 10 school forms that need my signature or initials. It’s a crazy life {I prefer to call it controlled chaos}, but its ours.

16 comments

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Laura
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11:57 AM delete

I agree with you. Actually, this stood out to me because a few Sundays ago, our pastor did a sermon on this. He said, "You know that scripture that says God won't give you more than you can handle? Guess what. It's NOT in the scriptures. God never said he wouldn't give us more than we can handle." So many people think it is something God promised us, and it isn't.

It's refreshing to see you taking hard time, difficult situations, and saying, this is for His glory, and this is all part of His plan. Continuing to pray for you and your family, girl.

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Addie
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12:51 PM delete

That's what He's there for, to carry us through the hard times. There are many days that I'm not sure how I made it out alive, then realize that He's always got my back.

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Cari
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1:11 PM delete

I have trouble with that statement at times as well.

There are times when we just can't handle more but I think it's a reminder that if we allow God into our hearts and our soul, He helps us get through those times much easier than if we didn't have His love.

You have been through so much Jenn, I admire your strength that shines through, you go on, you are a wife, mom and inspiring Christian.

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Christine
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2:17 PM delete

Beautiful post Jenn. I've been thinking more about that statement as well, and I agree. Sometimes he DOES give us more than we can handle so that we'll lean on Him and his strength. Well said!

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2:43 PM delete

Thank you for being a witness through your testimony! Happy birthday, friend! :)

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Taylor
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3:19 PM delete

Have I mentioned that I LOVE your heart? Because I seriously do! I love this and I had never thought of it that way, but I think it's completely accurate!!

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Mallory
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4:12 PM delete

I've read your blog off and on for a while, but I don't think I've ever commented before. I had to comment on this one, though, because it's something I've heard pretty much my ENTIRE life.

I'm a 20 year old college student, and I've had 19 surgeries. 15 of those were in 4.5 years, and 6 were brain surgeries in 2 months that caused me to lose my first semester of college. And every time something else went wrong, someone somewhere in my life would tell me this exact same statement. I was really struggling with my faith throughout all of this. I mean, it was to the point where I was begging God, if there even was one, to just kill me because I was so tired of fighting. So every time someone fed me this line, all I could think or respond with was that I REALLY wished He didn't think I could handle so much.

The last surgery I had was to get rid of a massive MRSA staph infection in my foot. Furiously, I told my doctor that there was no way that I was going to miss another semester of school, so I went back to school with a PICC line in my arm giving myself high dose antibiotics twice a day for weeks. I thought it would be easier than the brain surgeries.

Heh. Well, long story short, it pushed me to my breaking point. I realized that my strength by myself, the strength everyone else said God could see, was getting me nowhere fast, and if I kept trying to handle everything on my own, I was going to kill myself, whether I intended to or not.

All of that to say, it was in that mess that I finally came to realize that I am NOT strong. AT ALL. God's strength was the only thing that got me through all that. I now firmly believe that God does give us way more than we can handle by ourselves because, like you said, if we could handle it, we wouldn't need Him. We were created to praise Him, to pursue Him, and these bad situations we're all faced with will show us that He can and will redeem anything if we just trust in His love, goodness, and power over our lives.

Okay, this is long enough. I'll end with this: AMEN, SISTER! :)

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Amanda
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4:52 PM delete

I actually prefer the saying that if God brings you to it, he will get you through it

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6:07 PM delete

Beautiful post Jenn! I think it's so true too, just look at Job. He probably had more heartache than he could possibly handle, but God was faithful and saw him through and gave him so much more. I am having struggles right now just giving everything over to God with the baby and the feeling that I don't amount to much since I stay home with her. He is working through me!

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7:22 PM delete

Jen
I normally read through a feed reader so I never comment but I had to click over to say right on today.

He absolutely gives us more than WE can handle on our own. He doesn't give us more than HE can handle or more than HE is willing to lead us through.

Great insight and I have been praying for you through this hard time!

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7:02 PM delete

What a wonderful post, J. Beautifully written. Wonderful truth. Hugs.

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Jenny
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1:20 PM delete

This is so, so true!

There's a song that's been playing on Christian radio that never sits well with. It starts out, "You must think I'm strong to give me what I'm going through." I always have to tell my kids, "NO! We're not!"

Thank you for this post!

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Megan
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2:34 PM delete

It is so interesting, our pastor just preached this morning on God just showing you the one piece of the puzzle and not showing you thr kid to the box with the entire picture on it. My husband just deployed, and I am so thankful I can rest in the fact that God knows and is bigger than the whole situation. So I don't HAVE to worry. He is good all the time, and we can have joy in our one little puzzle piece.

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Courtney
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7:20 PM delete

A quick blogger intro - I'm a recent follower. I found your blog throughh your sister's Courtney, who happens to share my name.
Anyway I've been thinking about this post as its truth seems to be apparent everywhere - both in how common that statement and its lack of Biblical support. I saw this on facebook and immediately thought of your post. It says "God doesn't give us what we can handle, God helps us handle what we are given."

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Ariel Tomioka
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9:17 AM delete

Lately I've been blessed with a lot of guidance. I had come to the end of my rope and was close to tears, feeling helpless and angry in the face of injustice and oppression from powerful people. So I expressed to God how overwhelmed I was feeling and wondering if I was on the right path at all, or had I gotten lost or misdirected. I asked for guidance, reassurance or correction or all three. I had an inspiring dream that told me, "Don't fret. Your turn is next." What I had been waiting anxiously for was coming. Next a Muslim friend told me very passionately that I should advocate my own position to the Lord, not cower and beg. I told a Christian friend this story, and he reminded me a quote from the Bible that said "Come boldly to the throne of grace . . . " Then I went to a Christian friend's house. She gave me a Bible to replace one I'd somehow lost in my moves; it was someone else's family Bible. Inside someone had written I Corinthians Ch. 10, verse 10 and quoted "no burden too big to bear." I thought, "Hmm. Maybe this is another piece of the answer to my prayer." I looked up her reference and it led me nowhere; the reference was wrong. Finally my friend researched and found a quote that nearly matched the idea often stated that "God doesn't give us more than we can handle." But it did not say "burdens," but rather "temptations." So I Googled the quote and found THIS blog site. (Sorry it has taken so long to get to this point.) And I found that I agree: Yes, the point is not that any burden we get is proof that we can handle it. It's simply not common sense. Life's challenges can be overwhelming, as I've discovered. It is understandable when we buckle under some burdens. We're human. I think it's when we find our limits of strength that we find grace. Like where Job says, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him. But I will maintain my own ways before Him." That is, he will do two things: trust in God and trust in himself. Others tried to plant a seed of doubt in Job's mind that he must have offended God and done wrong to become so unfortunate. But Job knew the truth and would not put in false humility. His humility expressed himself in self-respect and self-confidence PLUS trust in God, even if that included the loss of his life. Thank you for this blog and the point made about discovering a strength greater than we have, or were ever meant to have. And thank you respondents for your insights, too. I really needed this "group hug" from you and now I am . . . not stronger . . . but rather, more relaxed, knowing that whatever I cannot "handle" from strength, I can receive through God's grace. Thank you!

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