God Will Give You More Than You Can HandleThe pains of this life are indiscriminate. The pit is wide enough for everyone and deep enough that none may escape it on their own.
Words sometimes used to comfort those going through trying times are “God will never give you more than you can bear”—that He gives the hardest battles to His toughest soldiers who have the willpower and faith to wrestle with the demons that aggrieve them. But this is not the case. None of us successfully combats our problems because we are strong or spiritually secure; rather, it is because God is bigger than our burdens.
The pains of this life are indiscriminate: tribulation awaits the pious and the unbelieving; grief torments the prince and the pauper; disaster afflicts the wise and the ignorant. The pit is wide enough for everyone and deep enough that none may escape it on their own.
BEWARE THE FALSE MESSAGE
Unfortunately, this truth is being supplanted with the falsehood of the prosperity gospel. This teaching holds that God’s will for us is to be blessed with health and wealth, and if you happen to be one of those unlucky folks with neither, then you’re just not believing hard enough.
This is, of course, patently false and unbiblical. Being sick or poor is not an indication of your spiritual wellbeing and being rich does not mean that you’re favored by God. This is antithetical to Jesus’s ministry in which He uplifted marginalized people, such as the destitute and lepers, who were considered as outcasts to society and even to God.
The Parable of the rich man and Lazarus in the Gospel of Luke is especially instructive. The rich man viewed his affluence as a manifestation of God’s favor. He was apathetic to Lazarus, the poor man outside his gate who was stricken with sores. The rich man believed that the man was in this state because he was cursed by God; however, when the two died, it was Lazarus who gained the riches of Heaven while the rich man was damned.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that you could buy a big house or be an able-bodied octogenarian. Far too often we regard God as a fairy godfather or genie whose intention is to make us happy and well-off. How many times have we prayed fervently to God for something we really wanted and when we got it, we put Him back in the backseat? It is easy to invoke Him only when we’re beset with difficulties.
We become so enamored with the immediate, earthly things of this life and effectively remove God from the center of our lives and place Him in the attic until we find Him useful. The luster of what this world has to offer can be far more captivating. We can even think that God gets in our way of enjoying them. Then when these things are taken away from us or when we realize the vanity of it all, they lose their pull and in that void we can choose to draw nearer to God.
WHY IS LIFE SO DIFFICULT?
In “The Problem of Pain,” C.S Lewis writes, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Indeed, when you listen to people talk about their journey to faith, they often credit a devastating event or sorrowful epiphany as being the impetus.
God gives us more than we can handle because eventually we have to shed ourselves of the self-deceit and pride that makes us believe that we can extricate ourselves from the snares of this world with our own strength. This is the same God who says to us, as he did to the Apostle Paul about his unnamed affliction, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9 KJV).
We need not to be downcast about our difficulties, for God uses them to fortify us—and not for our glory, but for His.
I’ve been experiencing more and more acute bouts of despair in recent years. I’ve been plagued with uncertainties, have been encumbered by some less-than-ideal circumstances and have succumbed to temptation after temptation. My thoughts incessantly wage war in my head and I’ve allowed my insecurities to rule my life. I’ve failed to see myself as how God sees me.
But it is because of, and not in spite of, all of this that I’ve sought to draw closer to God. When friends aren’t around or can’t be bothered with my problems, when family can’t quite grasp what I’m dealing with and when all this world has to offer grows dull, I’ve turned to God. Blaise Pascal, in “Pensées,” best explains the “God-shaped hole” that we all have:
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.”
God didn’t promise you and me that we’d be immune from the ills of this fallen world. The early Christians, prophets and saints definitely weren’t. You will have to duel with the devil. You will have to strive with strife. Those times will come. There will be times of trouble. There will be situations that you are not equipped to handle.
There will be times when you will feel abandoned by God and man and there will be times when loneliness inflicts in you wounds so severe that they render earthly bandages futile.
But recall what we are indeed promised. “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NLT). For those of us who place our faith in Christ, an eternal joy that far surpasses the worst the ephemeral world has to give awaits us.
A 19th century American lawyer named Horatio Spafford penned the famous hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul” soon after learning that his four daughters had tragically perished in a shipwreck. One verse reads:
“Though Satan should buffet
though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.”
The next time we cry “Why me, Lord?” let it not be as a protest to our pain but an acknowledgment of Christ’s ransoming us on Calvary to save us from the most severe kind of suffering—separation from God.
Charles Woodbine majored in Political Science at Baruch College in New York. He is an avid reader of C.S Lewis.