In closing I want to share something I came across in my research. I came across a blog post by Aaron Armstrong and he wrote something about this subject that really speaks to me; Aaron wrote "maybe we need to stop seeing the trials and adversity in our lives as a burden, as an indication that God doesn't love us. Maybe we need to start seeing them as proof that God indeed loves us very much - so much so that He will not let us try to rely on our own strength, but continue to show us that we must rely on Him to endure suffering and perseverance until the end" (www.bloggingtheologically.com)
Saturday, April 27, 2013
God Won't Give You More Than You Can Handle... Really???
"Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall." Psalm 55:22
OK, just when I start to think I am figuring things out something comes along to let me know that I am still a long way off from having anything figured out. Yesterday it happened, during my daily devotional.
Let me start by saying anyone who knows my family or me, knows that the one thing we are ALWAYS saying about my mom is that she always told us that God will never give us a burden we couldn't bear (ie. anything we can’t handle). I have shared this with countless others to reassure them, I have written blog posts about it, and have ALWAYS believed it as a promise directly from God, and assumed it was somewhere in the bible.
Well my devotional yesterday blew that right out of the water, along with the research I did afterwards. That research has led me to the absolute conclusion that God NEVER said this, God never told anyone this, nowhere in the Bible does it say this! It is not a bible scripture at all! As a matter of fact when you really think about it, a LOT of people in the Bible were most certainly given a LOT of things they could not handle. In the New testament alone apostles were stoned to death, crucified upside down, and beheaded, I don’t know about you but that sounds like things no one can handle!! Early Christians were persecuted, tortured, fed to lions, fed to wild dogs, burned at the stake, and crucified. Again, sounds to me like things no one is able to handle! Jesus himself was beaten, tortured and crucified, again something no human can handle. As a mater of fact early Jews and Gentiles alike used these things to say that God didn’t exist or that Jesus was not the Messiah, because why would He allow such horrible things to happen to His followers. I found out that this sentiment is most likely a misunderstanding or misquote from 1 Corinthians 10:13 which states
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
As you can see this verse does not say that God will not give you a burden you can not bear, it says that He will not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability. God Himself doesn't tempt anyone, that is the work of Satan. According to my research, this verse means that God will never put us in a situation where your only choice is to sin. It doesn't say he will not give us a burden we can not bear.
After reading this last night I began to really think, and to be honest I was upset and afraid. After living for the past 43 years believing that God would never give me a burden I could not bear, I felt like the rug had been pulled from under my feet when I realized this was nothing more than a nice sentiment, a hope of man, NOT the word of God. I began to think about all the horrible things that could happen to me or the terrible things that could happen to my family. At one point I even thought “forget it, that’s what I was taught and I am going to go on believing it” Yeah, because that will make it true, right? Not! You can’t go back and unlearn something which is what I wanted to do. I was happy with my thinking that God said this and that it must be in the Bible somewhere because so many people repeat it, BUT I was obviously not happy with my level of understanding of God’s word or else I wouldn’t have decided that I wanted to learn more about His word. I couldn’t just stop because I found out something I didn’t like. I couldn’t just say “Forget it, I’m gonna believe what I want” That’s not living in His word, and that’s certainly not growing closer to God.
So I had to do more digging because I kept wondering why God wouldn’t want to protect us from what we can’t handle. I started looking deeper into what I found in my research and I went back to reread that part of my devotional again because frankly I kind of zoned out after I read that this statement wasn’t a true promise from God. I had to know, if He’s not going to protect me from the evil in this world, what exactly is He going to do??
What I learned is that while God does NOT promise to never give us more than we can handle, He does promise something even greater! He says that He will be our strength in those times. He does something even better than simply not giving us a burden we can’t bear; He says we don’t have to bear them! We can turn them over to Him and He will handle them for us! Throughout my research I was reminded of the words to the song “Strong Enough” by Matthew West. When I was going through everything with my dad, that song was my rock, it reminded me that I was not alone and that I did not have to be strong enough. I always thought it meant the whole “God won’t give me more than I can handle” thing but then last night I really started thinking about the words and they started to make so much more sense! Matthew West sings:
You must think I’m strong to give me what I’m going through, well forgive me if I’m wrong, but this looks like more than I can do, on my own. I know I’m not strong enough to be every thing that I’m supposed to be, I give up, I’m not strong enough, Hands of mercy won’t you cover me, Lord right now I’m asking You to be strong enough for the both of us”
These words took on a whole new meaning to me after learning what I have learned and I realized that my own personal strength will never compare to God’s strength and that when I am faced with something I feel I can’t handle, I don’t have to, God will take on my burden, He will take care of me, I trust Him and I know He will be strong enough for the both of us. Just as it says in Psalm 55:22 Give your burdens to the Lord and He will take care of you..." I don't have to be strong, God is my strength and He will use the difficult times in my life to show me and everyone around me that strength.