Pain is your beginning. Not your end. Even though it feels like it is your end. Even though it must be your end because this is more than you can handle.
If you have been a Christian for longer than a month, then I’m sure you have heard someone say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Maybe someone has said this to you now as you are in this pain. The intentions were good intentions. I get it. But this is one of those “supposed to’s” that can make you angry at God. The “supposed to” stated is that God won’t give you more than you can handle. It is a poor interpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 that has been hijacked for a long time. Actually this promise is never promised in the Bible. I get why it got hijacked though. It would be nice to believe that we wouldn’t have to endure pain more than we can handle. That God is “supposed to” carry us through a pain which we do have strength to handle. But this is simply not true.
Paul, who wrote 1 Corinthians 10:13, also wrote this recap of his life in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 , We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. What Paul and friends went through was too much to handle. He said it. He said they “were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure.” That sounds like too much to handle to me!
How many times in the Psalms did David cry out that what was happening was too much for him to handle? Too many to count but here is one. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray! Psalm 77:3-4.
Then there is Job and all he went through. He declared, If my misery could be weighed and my troubles could be put on the scales, they would outweigh all the sands in the sea. That is why I spoke impulsively. Job 6:2-3. That sounds like too much to handle. Actually I’ve read what happened to Job and I know it is more than I could ever handle.
The saying “God will never give you more than you can handle” hits that soft spot of fairness we are drawn to. We want God to be fair. There’s something pleasing/comforting about the idea that the scales of life are in balance, especially when we feel so out of balance. But there is a noticeable problem with the “fairness” that we wish for. God has been unfair already, because He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve (Romans 5:8). He has been longsuffering, forbearing, gracious, and abounding in love (Psalm 86:15, Exodus 34:6). Thank God for this! But…
Another fallacy of this oft-quoted platitude is “God will never give you more than you can handle” tells me I have what it takes. It tells me I can handle whatever comes my way. It tells me God permits trials according to my ability to endure. Look how strong I am!
Except for those days when I can’t get out of bed in the morning. Then that stupid, lying voice tells me that I am a failure, a failure in my faith. Instead of feeling like “I can handle this with God because He entrusted me with this!” I sabotage myself. What a mess. But then stupid, lying voices love to make our lives a mess.
The truth is the pain you feel is more than you can handle. The promise also is the God who gave you this breath to live another day is also faithful to meet you in your pain. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:18-19
Lead your brain with this truth, all of this truth. You will make it. You will even be brave enough to be able to praise God through this storm. Because your life is brave decision upon brave decision upon brave decision. To praise God through this storm is one of those brave decisions.
(Photo credit: http://www.smartcompany.com.au/business-advice/strategy/get-a-life-how-to-escape-the-trap-of-being-overwhelmed/)