Recently someone stated to me that “God does give you things you can’t handle.” I, unfortunately, didn’t respond as I wish I would have, mostly because I was shocked that this particular person made such a statement. My gut reaction was a blaring, “That’s not true!” Yet, I couldn’t come up with anything intelligent to say. As I thought and prayed over that statement the past few days, I’ve come to a few conclusions.
In life we are absolutely faced with challenges, hardships and obstacles which are too much for us to bear on our own. These hardships are not necessarily from God. However, God still promises to give us the strength to tackle them, grow as a person, and move on.
“I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” ~Philippians 4:12-13
It’s absurd to believe that every hardship we face is a test or refinement from the Lord, when we are very well aware of the presence and effect of sin in the world. In fact, in the situation I’m referring to, the hardship being discussed is most obviously NOT from the Lord. It’s a result of a sinful person’s free will.
God gave each of us free will and he’s not going to take it away. Even when that means someone turns away from Him and chooses a completely unfulfilling and dangerous life of drinking, drugs, promiscuity, repeatedly putting oneself at odds with the law, repeatedly exposing oneself to violent individuals, driving recklessly, and surrounding oneself with other lost and equally poor decision makers. That’s the whole point of free will. God gave it to all of us, allowing us to freely choose him. Or, in some cases not choose him. Yes, it’s painful to watch someone you dearly love use their free will in such away that not only says no to God, but very regularly puts her life in danger. I know all about this pain, as I’m experiencing it too. The difference is I’m not allowing someone else’s poor choices to affect my relationship with the Lord. Allowing that doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense. All that does is invite Satan’s power to extend past the sinful person (Obviously, we’re all sinful people, but I’m speaking of this specific person.) and take hold of your own life as well.
What’s really amazing is when you stand back and look at the situation, you can see God’s hand on her life. He is calling her. He is giving her opportunity after opportunity to see the error of her ways. All we can do is pray, pray, and pray some more for this individual’s conversion and the conversion of her peers. All we can do is be a continual example of Christ’s love and light in the world and in her life. That’s it.
What we absolutely don’t need to do is lose our own faith simply because of another human’s choices. What we don’t need to do is shield this person from that natural consequences of her behavior. When she makes a choice with financial ramifications, she needs to be allowed to suffer financially. When she makes a choice with legal ramifications, she needs to be allowed to suffer legally. Continuously sheltering her from natural consequences is only teaching her that she can do whatever she wants with no resulting circumstances. If she lives in an environment where she can’t even comprehend cause and effect in its simplest most realistic terms, how can we possibly expect her to understand there are eternal consequences for the choices she makes? I personally don’t believe that the fear of hell is sufficient motivation to maintain a relationship with Christ. However, in this circumstance, this individual has no regard for consequences of any kind. Allowing her to experience consequences would probably be a really good first step toward her personal rehabilitation and eventual conversion.
Now, in regards to the original statement, I discovered this. As far as God protecting us from situations we can’t handle, He says, “No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) But, again, I think free will comes into the discussion here. God can only open the proverbial window in response to a closed door when we turn to him and seek His help. And, actually, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Instead of just asking for help, it’s much more efficient to turn the situation over to Him entirely. I can tell you in the situations where I had the good sense to completely surrender my situation to the Lord the outcome was so much more than anything I could have constructed myself. God always knows better, so I don’t understand why we, as humans, find it so hard to surrender to him. However, that’s a topic for another entry on another day.
The passage in Corinthians goes on to say in verse 23 (NLT) “You say ‘I am allowed to do anything” – but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything.” – but not everything is beneficial.'” I think that’s the key. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. When temptation presents itself, we must make the decision to turn to Christ and rise above the situation with His strength, not our own, for our own will never be enough.
So, here’s the moral of the story. Yes, we will be presented with situations which we are not strong enough to endure. Often times these situations are the result of sin. And, when we are faithful to the Lord, He will be faithful in giving us the strength to endure the situation and eventually rise out of it. In a nutshell, it is true that God won’t give you anything you can’t handle, as long as you have the good sense to turn to him in your time of need. More often than not you will need His strength, as your own won’t be enough. SO, more accurately, God won’t give you anything you can’t handle with His strength. This doesn’t mean you won’t hurt or suffer. This doesn’t mean that God is promising us an easy life. This means that God is faithful to those that are faithful to Him. It means when you are hurting, the very best possible thing you can do it turn to the Lord and ask what His will is for you in this situation, then act accordingly. God uses the painful situations in our lives to teach us, to mold us, to make us more like Him. We need to embrace these situations, despite the pain, and grow with the Lord. “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.” Proverbs 12:1 NLT