Read His Words Before Ours!
I remember the moments like they were yesterday as we walked in the mall on a Saturday. The scene played out regularly. Inevitably, someone would stop the one of us pushing our twins in our stroller….
Stranger: Oh my goodness, they’re so cute! But wow, that’s a lot of work.
Me: Thank you. And yes, it is.
Stranger: I’m glad it’s you and not me, I could never do that.
Me: (polite laugh and a smile…)
And then, the real fun started. The other one of us would roll up with stroller number 2, occupied by a 3 and 5 year old.
Stranger: Ooooohh. Wow. You guys have your hands full, don’t you?
Me: Yes, we do.
Stranger: (super chipper!) Well, remember God won’t give you more than you can handle.
Me: (polite laugh and smile #2 as I found the exit as quickly as possible)
It wasn’t just strangers at the mall. It happened everywhere. The grocery store. With friends. At church. In those moments, I just wanted to cry and yell a little:
Really? Are you kidding me?
Why do I feel like such a mess?
I have no idea what I’m doing.
Why do I get upset sometimes?
Why do I get angry?
The list could go on…
In those moments, I knew those people were 100% wrong.
They thought I could handle it.
They thought God believed I could handle it.
But 4 preschoolers was WAY more than I could handle. So why did people keep telling me that? Was I even cut out to be a mom? The tears would come and I would think, everyone keeps saying I can handle this because it’s what God gave me, so why am I having a hard time?
None of those people meant any harm, but I know the words were harmful.
They made me question why I was overwhelmed and struggling,
and they were patently untrue.
Why do people use that phrase?
Where does it come from?
It’s a misapplied use of 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says,
“No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it.”
God will allow us to be tempted,
but never to the point that we cannot resist,
if we choose to obey and follow the way out that He will provide.
The reference has been taken out of context and applied to any and every situation,
not just temptation.
That is where the danger comes in.
What does that say to….
The parents who just lost a child?
The addict who just hit rock bottom?
The man overwhelmed by the pressure of work who is considering suicide?
Those taking care of kids, parents, and grandkids all at the same time?
The abandoned and abused?
Lonely spouses who cry themselves to sleep?
When we hear someone tell us that we’ll be okay because God won’t give us more than we can handle, we walk away thinking,
I can handle it…I should handle it….
that’s what God expects me to do.
Then in our struggles, we end up feeling like there’s something wrong with ME.
It’s MY problem.
Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
The lie of the enemy is that I’m on my own,
meant to handle it by myself.
“You got this…” he whispers in a loud scream.
With that thought process, why is there a need for God at all?
Why do I need grace?
I just need to do more, be more, try harder, and handle it better.
But the truth of the gospel is that God WILL ALWAYS give me more than I can handle,
but NEVER more than He expects Jesus to handle for me.
The apostle Paul grasped the truth and reality of the gospel. He writes to the church in Corinth about some of the difficulties he and Timothy encountered (2 Corinthians 1:8-11). He admits that they were pushed to the point of despair
so much that they would have chosen death in the moment.
However, Paul knew that God pushed them to force them to
put their trust in Him over their own strength.
Paul understood the truth and the power of the gospel;
he didn’t have to handle it, because Jesus would handle it for him.
Now that my preschoolers have become teenagers, the “Oh’s”, laced with pity and thankfulness it’s not them, have returned once again.
But now, I process the comments differently.
Parenting is more than I can handle.
So is being a wife, much less a pastor’s wife, writer, employee, or friend.
When I am allowing Him to handle it for me, the most overwhelming of circumstances is laced with a peace and rest in the strength that comes through someone bigger than me (Philippians 4:7). And when I do feel overwhelmed, it becomes a sign that I am relying on myself, not allowing Him to be my strength, song and salvation (Psalm 118:14).
With the truth of the gospel, and the strength that I receive in Christ,
He promises to handle everything He asks me to do.
I listen and obey, and He carries the burden.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!