Have you had a well-meaning person try to encourage you in the midst of some difficult life circumstances by telling you, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” They may even follow it up with a, “…so He must think a lot of you to put all of this on you.”
Wait. What?? That sounds kinda messed up to me. Are you telling me that I’m supposed to handle this all by myself? And feel special because of it?
No. No, we’re not…not if we are Christ-followers. It’s a lie that sounds close to the truth, which makes it the most dangerous type of lie.
(I think most people are likely getting this confused with the verse, 1 Cor 10:13, that promises we won’t be tempted beyond what we can bear. However, these are not the same things.)
We know it’s a lie because over and over in the scriptures God reacts contrary to this statement. When the central character in the story finds themselves in some impossible circumstances, and they cry out to God, He is faithful to help them. He proves himself to be our rescuer over and over again.
Abraham & Sara – They couldn’t have a child and the weight of that was too much for them. God divinely allowed Sara to become pregnant far past the child bearing age, and even used that child to begin a nation.
Moses – Moses was given the impossible task of convincing Pharaoh to let God’s people go. Moses obediently went, but God did the convincing for him through a series of plagues. As a result, God was glorified in Egypt. Moses then found himself leading a nation of people down a dead end street with angry Egyptians close behind them. God, again, made a way when there wasn’t one. In one of the most famous stories of the Bible, God parted the Red Sea and let His people go through. Remembering these great acts of God bolstered the faith of His people for years, decades, and centuries to come.
Jesus & His disciples – After Jesus had been teaching a crowd of people, He told his disciples to feed them. There were at least 5,000 people in attendance, probably more. The story resolves when the disciples find the only food among the crowd (some fishes & loaves) and bring it to Jesus. Jesus provides the meal that day by multiplying the food so that everyone in the crowd has enough to eat…plus leftovers!
In each of these stories, God simply asked his children to trust him, not handle it. He KNEW they couldn’t handle their situation on their own. In fact, He often allows us to be in situations like this in order to show us just how much He can be trusted, how deeply He loves us, and how He is ever-faithful. In the process He is glorified and His kingdom is advanced.
The fishes and loaves story used to frustrate me so much. I couldn’t understand why Jesus would ask his disciples to do something that He knew they couldn’t do. It almost seemed cruel. Sometime recently, while reading the story again, God showed me that Jesus was teaching his followers. He was showing them that when He asked them to do something impossible like this, that their part was only to step forward in obedience…He would handle the rest (the impossible part.)
It’s the same with you and me. Today I find myself elated to have been accepted to an incredible worship school, 10,000 Fathers. This is the next step on an amazing journey God has me on, which you can read about here if you missed it. The problem is that the school costs money. (Who would’ve thought, right? Lol!) At this point in time, Chip & I are as tight financially as we’ve ever been. I’ve exhausted the possibilities I can think of, and feel like I’m at a dead end…but I think God has it this way on purpose. Yesterday I read this during my time with God:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4
In the fishes & loaves story, it would have been much easier for Jesus to have just magicked some food out of thin air to feed the people with rather than involving the disciples in the process. It may have saved the disciples some time of feeling troubled, because the situation was more than they could handle. However, Jesus knew that their immediate happiness wasn’t as important as eternal things like their faith and their relationship with the object of their faith (Him). He allowed them to be in a place where they could feel troubled, just like I think He is allowing me to be…and maybe allowing you to be. Is it fun? Nah, I don’t think I’d call it fun. BUT, could it possibly be an “opportunity for great joy” as the verse above says? Yes, I think it can if we allow it.
Yesterday, after reading the verses from James, I read Psalm 116 (Message version).
We can have great joy in the midst of our impossible circumstances: money troubles, relational issues, health problems, sin struggles, or worse. We can have great joy because we know:
We DO NOT have to handle this on our own.
God will handle it much better than we ever could.
While handling our troubles, God will refine us in the process and we will come out of them bearing more resemblance to His son.
…and THAT is something to find great joy in.
Praying you, me, and our troubles know who is handling things today,