"God will not give you more than what you can bear"?

Today's Confused Christian Cliche is written by Gina Hinshaw who tells her amazing story of following Jesus at http://ginahinshaw.wordpress.com/ Make sure to check it out.

“Don’t worry, God will not give you more than what you can bear.”  How many have heard this? I most definitely have, and even though it is from people who genuinely love and care for me, it is bogus. This “Christian cliché” is completely untrue and unbiblical. To someone who has not gone through loss and despair, this might be something you can believe and it sounds good and promising. To someone who is facing trial after trial, this lie can lead to further despair, anxiety, doubt and experience a greater loss, the loss that God is no longer with them. When the intention is to be encouraging, this untrue saying is actually very discouraging and can be immensely destructive to someone who is hurting.

If I believed this supposedly encouraging promise, I’m telling you right now that if I was not in the Word and did not know that this was not from God I would have some serious doubts whether God’s promises are true and if they are true for me. I say this because there are times when the loss and pain and despair is more then I can handle on my own.

This saying is not a verse. It is found nowhere in scripture. The closest verse to this saying is not talking about suffering and trials, it’s about temptation.
1 Corinthians 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.”

Is the loss and grief of loosing my husband a temptation? No, not at all. This promise has nothing to do with suffering, trials, grief, heartache and loss. It does not say that God won’t give us too much suffering, trials, grief, heartache and loss. And it doesn’t say that we will be able to bear the suffering, trials, grief, heartache and loss. In fact there are several instances in scripture that show the exact opposite.

Paul, God’s messenger to the Gentiles and one who follows the Lord completely, shares with the church in Corinth, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of even life.” 2 Corinthians 1:8

Jesus tells his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Both Mark and Matthew remember Jesus saying this. (Mark 14:34, Matthew 26:38)
And Luke records, “And being in anguish, he (Jesus) prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:42

David, the man after God’s own heart, says “my guilt has overwhelmed me, like a burden to heavy to bear." (Psalms 38:4) "I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart." (Psalms 38:8) "My soul is in anguish, How long, O Lord, how long?" (Psalms 6:3) "Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak." (Psalms 31:9-10) "The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow." (Psalms 116: 3)”

I read these accounts and it strengthens me to know that others, including God Himself, was overwhelmed with sorrow, and “even to the point of death” sounds like it is more then unbearable. It means that when I am filled with sorrow and overwhelmed with the reality of my loss that God is still near me and I am not alone.

Even more, and this is the great part, when I am overwhelmed with grief and sorrow beyond what I can bear on my own, I rely on God to be my strength and go to Him for comfort. Paul, who agrees with me, says to the Corinthians, “Indeed in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”(2 Corinthians 1:9)

I have found great joy in allowing God to be my strength, my comfort, and my rest through the loss and heartache of losing my husband.  If God only gave me what I can bear myself, then I would never experience His overwhelming love and peace He gives to those who are crushed and broken.

God does promise in Matthew 11: 28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you the rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” So, I exchange my heavy burden of loss and grief for his rest and peace. A very exceptional trade, and I don’t know how people do it who decide to keep the burden on themselves.

The benefits of suffering beyond what you can bear yourself only get better.

Not only do I find rest and peace for my overburden soul but through my weakness, God’s great power is given to me and made more perfect in me. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 says, “But he (God) 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.”

People wonder how I can find joy through the pain; this is it.  When you love someone and you are completely devoted to them, difficulties and pain don’t seem so bad when through those things you are closer and made stronger through the one who you love. Because of my love for God, I am more then willing to go through difficulties. Just like I know that the sun gives light and warmth, I know I am closer to God when I go through sorrow and pain.

Lastly, one of the greatest benefits of suffering all sorts of trials is that my faith is made genuine and stronger. Iron, gold or silver are not worth as much if they are not refined in the fire. It would be senseless to not refine them, and the more these metals are refined, the more they are worth. I Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith---of greater worth then gold, which perishes even though refined by fire---may be proved genuine and may result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

It’s very hard to understand these verses if you have never gone through much difficulty. You might get the concept and generally understand that difficulties can be used for good. But if you live a safe comfortable life, avoiding pain and suffering at all costs, its possible that will go through life without ever knowing the true joy and peace that I have. Or when trials enter your life unexpectedly and are unwelcomed, anger and bitterness could easily enter in if you believe that God will not give you more then what you can bear.

Please understand that I am still very much human, I am broken and I am hurting, and I will be for a while. But I delight in the closeness I have from God and everything else that goes with it. I could never go back to having a safe, comfortable, easy life without trouble. I decided to trust God when Chris had cancer and when Chris was dying, but I had no control over the situation. I also decided to trust God when we became foster parents and when I shared my blog (originally I was not planning on sharing anything).  I did have control over these and I did them because I wanted to be obedient to God. I no longer wanted to live for me, I wanted to live for Him.

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1 comment:

  1. Gina I agree with this commentary... as I am a widow on WV website and saw you photo of your husband in bed.. it is very close to what happened to me and my beloved. We have been under attack... he passed away at home. To see his lovely face and lose him is a terrible thing. Left a message for you on your WV page.
    My roses.