I sat across from a woman with dark eyes that told her dark story. As her hands wrapped around her cup of coffee, her eyes became pools of pain and I had to look away. She didn’t speak a word of English, but the translator didn’t need to tell me that she had suffered in this life and now carried the weight of the world. I could feel the heaviness.
A missionary arranged our unlikely meeting–me, a mom and writer–she, a middle eastern woman who had escaped oppression. We were joined together by the desire to help women in her country.
As I listened to the violence she had endured, I couldn’t help but think of the saying I grew up believing, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
I’ve heard the words my entire life.
I may have even said them a time or two.
And I’ve believed a lie.
They sound ridiculous to a mom who has buried her child and to a teen girl who has traded sex for food and to the woman who sat before me who could be killed because she follows Jesus.
Because that’s more than anyone can handle.
The words aren’t even Biblical. Actually, the Bible promises us hardship in this life and tells story after story of suffering.
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Cor 1:8,9).
If that doesn’t speak of despair and being thrown more than can be handled, I don’t know what does. We are promised tribulation and persecution in this life. We might even die (or feel like it).
Yes, sometimes we are given more than we can handle. But all the time, we have One who can handle anything.
If we could handle all the grief, pain, suffering, poverty, financial woes, parenting struggles, gut-wrenching hard times in life, we wouldn’t need Jesus.
But He is made strong in our weakness. John 16:33 “…In Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
And He has already endured every sorrow we may carry.
The purpose of our pain is to make us rely on God, so that His great power is made evident in our weakness–when we can’t handle another thing.
When we are able to continue and survive with peace in the midst of tribulation, others won’t see us. They will see Him.
“Not once have I danced around our house shouting, “Yeah suffering!” Instead, in the midst of pain and hurt, I am actively expecting God to do something. I don’t know what. I don’t know when. But I am expecting the God of resurrection to heal us. I am expecting God to restore us. I am expecting him to redeem this situation. I am expecting him to do this and so I will be actively looking and waiting for him to do something. I believe expectant waiting can only happen when we exchange our feeble platitudes for an authentic faith that engages God with the full brunt of our emotion and pain. Only then can salvation been seen.” -Nate Pyle
So, today as you look in the face of a friend or in the mirror and need more Jesus, see that He is right there with you. And from now on instead of saying “you can bear this,” I’m going to say, “as you bear this, you aren’t alone.” And somehow, someway He makes things good.
Because that’s the truth we are promised.
Written by Kristen Welch, We are THAT family