Friday, March 02, 2007

God Gives Us More Than We Can Handle...

I don't have enough fingers to count the number of times I have heard someone (including myself!) say, "God won't give you more than you can handle." What does that mean exactly? I think for the most part it is a sloppy interpretation of I Cor. 10:13--No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Taken in context it seems that Paul is speaking specifically about sin and temptation in this passage, but the context in which well-meaning people use it seems to be more related to general life circumstances...oh, you lost your job?...don't worry, God won't give you more than you can handle; you have cancer?...that's awful, but God won't give you more than you can handle; you just lost your baby? horrible, but God won't give you more than you can handle.

Hum...The theological questions abound when I begin to think about God's will...his sovereignty and omnipotence--whether he sometimes causes things to happen, or allows Satan to work, or whether bad things just happen because we live in a fallen world. I don't know if there are any solid answers to these big questions. But lately, I feel pretty confident that God, indeed "gives us more than we can handle".

Brian and I just went through the heartbreak and pain of a miscarriage. It was unexpected and hard to understand. Why does this happen? Why would God allow something this awful to happen? I am not sure that we can ever know the answers to the questions. What I do feel confident about is that we cannot handle this by any measure of sheer human will or desire.

Community has been a larger reality to me in these past weeks than in the past combined years of my life. We have felt supported and cared for by our brothers and sisters in a way I can't adequately express in words. And I don't think we would be in the place of healing where we are if it were not for our community. This is the church at her best. This is the radiant bride of Christ in her moment of beauty. If church was this--this family community--100% of the time, how quickly our world would see Christ in us. No, we cannot handle this, but God gives us a gift to help in healing along the way.

And, how could we possibly learn to trust in God if he never "gave us more than we could handle"? Of course we can't handle it! If we could do it on our own we certainly wouldn't need God in our lives. In Paul's second letter to the Corinthian believers he records,
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. His grace is sufficient. That is a hard pill to swallow, but I also find immense comfort and rest in knowing that I don't have to "handle it" on my own. I can put my tears, lost dreams, and fears of the future on him and trust that his power will be made perfect in my weakness.

I don't know if I am here yet, but I hope that at some point I will be able to say, "Praise God that he gives us more than we can handle!"