In the past few weeks I have found out a close friend of mine is facing the knowledge that her mom only has 3-6 months to live, another in my circle of family and friends is in the process of a divorce, another in the hospital and my grandfather fell and broke his neck (thankfully, with no permanent damage!). It has not been a stellar start to the new year!
Although I personally am only in the periphery of all of these situations, I am watching those close to me struggle. The phrase that I heard so often when we faced hardship is never far from my mind. “God will never give you more than you can bear!”
I don’t mean to upset your world with this revelation, but do you know that the Bible never actually says that? It is a misquotation of I Corinthians 10:13.
“13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it.”
This verse is referencing temptation, not life situations.
The reality is we do face circumstances that are more than we can handle. God uses struggles in our lives to discipline and shape us into what He needs us to be. Sometimes allowing us more than we can bear is the very thing that drives us to our knees. Those bleak moments when we feel as if we are being crushed are some of the very moments that we realize just how dependent on God we are.
After our first match ended in failure, I was broken. The subsequent matches were brutal. I knew there was nowhere to go but through it, but the journey was crushing me. If we wanted to be parents this was the path we would have to travel. Each day the weight of what we faced was enormous. It felt as if it would suffocate me. It was more than what I could handle on my own.
It forced me to my knees and brought tremendous clarity to seeing God’s control over the situation. God gave us a support system that would teach me what it looks like to bear each other’s burdens. I learned what true Christian friendship meant.
The expression that “God will not give you more than you can bear” needs to be dropped from our vocabulary. It is well intended encouragement, but ends as empty words. What we really need to be saying is “What can I do to help? How can I help shoulder this burden with you?”
Encouragement has its time and place, but it should be accompanied by action. Sometimes it is just as simple as asking someone honestly how they are doing and giving them the space to talk openly. Sometimes there may be kids that need a little more attention or errands that need run.
Most importantly, the person needs to know that they are loved and are not fighting through the situation alone. They need to be validated in their struggle. Being told that “God will not give you more than you can bear” used to leave me wondering what was wrong with me that I felt so crushed. I thought there was a flaw within me when really it was a flaw with the words I was being told.
God had given me more than I could bear to mold me into the woman I am today. I am appreciative of my broken times because I see the beauty that has been born from them. I am thankful for the people that shouldered my burden alongside of me. I am grateful for the examples of Christ that I have seen through this journey. It has made me see God’s goodness in not only the good, but also the rough times.
Please know that it is okay to be broken; that sometimes we face things that are more than we can bear and that is for our good. God loves us. In those times we are driven to our knees, know that God is ready and waiting to meet us there.
Please know that sometimes God is giving you the privilege of shouldering someone else’s burden. To be able to reflect Christ’s love onto someone who is hurting is a wonderful honor we are given.
Lastly, in all things, remember that we are to be thankful and giving the glory to our Lord. At the time, when we are struggling, that is difficult, but when we are able to later reflect on the situation, it is humbling to see how much the hand of God was present, and in that, we experience the ability to give God the gratitude and glory that He rightly deserves!