2013-05-17 - Can You Handle It?
An artist named Plumb has a song called "Need You Now". Over the last few weeks I have cried and prayed through the words. The chorus says, "How many times have you heard me cry out 'God please take this'? How many times have you given me strength to just keep breathing? Oh I need you. God, I need you now." Life has been absolutely crazy; I feel like just yelling, "I'm tired of the ride now can I please get off!" Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Do you ever feel like you just can't cope anymore.
Now how many times have you heard, "God won't give you more than you can handle"? Why then does it seem like we so often find ourselves overwhelmed drowning in life? Right now I am swamped with tasks at work, home, and church. Juggling deadlines, meetings, politics, children, to-do lists that are added to faster than I can remove things from them all these things are too much. And now my dad is in the hospital having had a portion of his colon removed with breathing problems and a MRSA infection and he's staring at the possibility of cancer. And I still get asked to do more by everyone around me including God. I am way beyond what I can handle. Why does God let this happen? Could it be that God has been lying to us?
No, God is truth. God cannot lie. Well how do we make sense of the statement we hear so often, "God won't give you more than you can handle"? First we must realize that this is not found anywhere in scripture. In fact we find something more in line with what I have experienced.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (NIV)
Paul was at his wit's end. He was beyond what he could handle. And God let him go there. Did God lie to Paul too? No, God never made the statement he is so often credited with. Notice what happens here, Paul is pushed beyond his ability so that he leans on God's ability. Now that seems to line up with scripture doesn't. God will let you be pushed beyond what you can do so you learn to trust him with it.
Romans 8:28 (NASB) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
All the good and bad that is dumped upon us and pushes us to our limits and beyond will be good if we love God and rely on him. Notice this promise is only for believers (a.k.a. those who are called according to his purpose since his purpose by his own words in the Gospels was to seek and save the lost).
Philippians 4:13 (NASB) I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
I can do all things, put up with all things, and endure all things because of God who strengthens me. This rings true so what about the "God won't give you more than you can handle" statement? I've heard it attributed to scripture and accredited to many people including Mother Theresa but perhaps the best explanation of it is that it arises from a misunderstanding of a verse in Paul's first letter to the Corinthian church.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB) No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
God won't let us be tempted with more than we can handle. He will always provide a way out of the temptation. This promise is probably the one that has been twisted into the one we hear so often so please know that God does allow a lot to be put on us. He even allows some to be martyred that is definitely more than we can handle physically.
God won't promise us an easy life but he does promise his presence and the presence of others in our lives.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NASB) - Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you."
What if right now there is someone crying out to God and God wants to answer their cries for help through you? What if God doesn't answer the prayers of others because he is waiting on you to answer it for him? We are to help one another. We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the hurting. We are to love others as much as we love ourselves.
Nobody likes pain. Nobody likes suffering. Nobody likes feeling rundown and at their wits end but this is part of life. It is especially part of the Christian life. The Bible spells out plainly that we will share in the suffering of Christ; Jesus told his followers that they would be persecuted just as he was persecuted.
"The call to follow Christ is a call to suffer. It is a call to bear certain yoke (Matthew 11:29), and carry a certain cross (Matthew 16:24). But, the majority of Christendom is obsessed with escaping Christ's yoke and his cross. We are more concerned with being safe and comfortable. Therefore, it is easy and almost natural for us to expect God to deliver us from our burdens and thorns in the flesh. But, deliverance may not be God's plan for us, and we must be, like Paul, prepared to accept it."
Too many pop-psychology, feel-good preachers preaching bad theology have led so many astray that the majority now accept their lies as Gospel truth. We believe God won't give us too much to handle. We believe if we have enough faith nothing bad will befall. We believe that God will protect us from harm. So when problems come up and we are drowning in the storms of life, we doubt God. If God says life will be good and it isn't then how can I trust God ever with anything let alone with my entire life. Seems Satan has us just where he wants us with ears wanting to hear good news that is convenient and there are many willing to preach that kind of message but there is no comfort in lies. I am tired of "disciples" that ask whose sins someone is being punished for. I am so sick of people judging my dad as not having enough faith to be healed.
Examine scripture carefully and live it out. Consider the cost in following Christ but then also count it all joy to know him in the midst of life's trials.
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted