“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.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
We’ve all heard the phrase, “God won’t give you anything more than you can handle.” Maybe we’ve even been told it’s in the Bible. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This little ‘gem’ gets passed around like a bad penny. It may be my least favorite saying in the English language!
When I’ve encountered difficult times in my life people have shared that little phrase in order to cheer me up or give me confidence that God wouldn’t possibly let me be so oppressed. I usually feel defeated when I hear it. It makes me feel like I’m failing, that I need to ‘bear up’ and ‘deal’ with whatever difficult or horrible thing God has chosen to let me experience. Weakness and failure are often mingled with my thoughts of grief. It makes me feel alone, that God is torturing me with a test to endure without His help. The simple fact is that if I were able to handle the situation by myself, I wouldn’t need God!
Let’s look at some of the promises God actually gives us in the Bible: God will see our human weakness and meet us there; in the broken places, in the defeat, in the failures. In grief we all feel we’re not enduring well enough. That’s where God shows His power. He knows we’re human, that’s no surprise to the God who made us. Godly living is about relying on Him even when we don’t understand or feel that we don’t have the strength to go on. He promises to love us, never leave us, and even take on our sorrows. The peace that God gives us often transcends understanding. That way, He gets the glory in restoring us to Himself. In those hard places, remember God’s promises and ‘lean in’ to his strength.
If you’ve ever heard that phrase, “God doesn’t give us any more than we can handle,” Correct them! Tell them more accurately, “God doesn’t give us any more than He can handle.” In the words of Paul Tripp, “Don’t buy the false gospel of self-reliance. If you could make it without help, Jesus would not have needed to come.”
“Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
Matthew 5: 24, NIV
I didn’t want to remove the splinter. It was glass and had lodged into my foot deeply. After a week of limping, it had to be dealt with but I was not enjoying the prospect of having to cut it out. Many Youtube videos later, having watched the proper procedure, I carefully and slowly cut into the wound according to the instructions I’d researched. Without a bright light to guide me, it would have been impossible to see that little glass splinter shining back at me. The offending object was invisible at first, painful later, and only worsened with time. The first day after I removed the glass shard I was sore, but the next day after some healing I was back to walking again!
Recently when God called me to make some things right in relationships, I was reminded of the splinter. These offenses such as bitterness, unforgiveness, pride, are invisible at first, but become increasingly painful with time. God values living in right relationships even more than worship! As He loves His children, He expects me to love them also. It was obvious that carrying these offenses hindered my walk with God. He makes it clear that obedience is what he wants from us.
The bright light of the Holy Spirit will shine brightly and show us where our trouble spots are when we are seeking Him, just as a proper light was needed to see the glass splinter. Even though we have no control over the outcome of humble apologies, I was blessed to be forgiven. The even bigger blessing was having my walk with God unhindered again!
photo credit: https://www.freeimages.com/photographer/davidlat-56060
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
Matthew 10:14 NIV
My Father just returned from the fishing trip of a lifetime! The picture you see is a single days’ catch; it was a very successful trip. He told me how much research goes into catching fish. There is studying the fish migratory patterns, finding the right bait, and working carefully when reeling them in so they aren’t lost. The clever fisherman works very hard to deceive fish. Despite all of this, it is still the choice of the fish to take the bait and hold onto it long enough to be hooked and reeled in.
When we go about our everyday lives we will occasionally come across ‘bait’- things placed with the intent of wasting our time, offending us, or hurting us. If we are not mindful of Christ’s mindset we can waste a great deal of time, energy, and emotion on worthless arguments. When I hear people discussing the latest Facebook argument I often tell them, ‘you took the bait.’ How much stress and effort is going in to ‘staying on the line’ while someone is reeling them in? We have a choice to keep on swimming.
Of course, there are plenty of situations outside of the internet that we can find bait carefully laid out for us. Maybe there’s a coworker with a critical attitude. Perhaps there’s a member of your family struggling with anger or bitterness. Every time I visit the department of motor vehicles it’s a struggle not to be frustrated with the bureaucracy of paperwork!
Jesus clearly teaches us to value our time and energy. We are instructed to evaluate if our words are falling on deaf ears. Can you imagine how ineffective the disciples would have been if they had continued to preach to people who would not listen?
Are we keeping Christ’s perspective in our everyday interactions? It can certainly be difficult to ask the Lord before we engage in a heated discussion. Let’s keep in mind God’s will and Jesus’ example before we ‘take the bait!’