Life is hard for a lot of people all around me these days. Paychecks seem to be tight for all. Everyone seems to be doing more work than in prior years as co-workers quit, are terminated or laid-off, but not replaced. Our children are under intense pressure grappling with fractured or blended families, the changing curriculum in schools, and the additional distractions and temptations introduced by technology. Maybe it’s just me but everywhere I turn I see weight on peoples’ shoulders exceeding what I have observed in the past.
It is common to hear people say things to maintain perspective or offer encouragement.
Let go. Let God.
It could be worse.
Things can only get better from here.
For today’s post, I would like to tackle the oft spoken sentence,
God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.
Oh, yes, He does! By definition, He has to give us more than we can handle.
I read a blog entry by Joni Eareckson posted on-line January 31* that spoke about the verse most commonly associated with the concept that God does not give us more than we can handle.
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. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Joni aptly pointed out that the verse has to do with temptation, not our circumstances. We NEVER have to sin. E.V.E.R. Whatever it is that we succumbed to, the Lord had provided a way of escape that we did not take. The Holy Spirit lives inside of us and we can allow His power to live through us and obey God no matter what. That’s why we can live Philippians 1:27: Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. We absolutely have the ability to live this verse because we have full access to His strength.
Now that we have established that this verse does not have to do with being overwhelmed by our circumstances, let’s switch gears.
By definition, our circumstances absolutely have to be more than we can handle, and that is good news.
1. When circumstances grow too large for us to handle, we turn to God.
I wish this wasn’t so, but it is. In the early days after 911 for instance, churches filled. But as the sense of immediate danger dissipated, so did our spiritual interest. We are all like that. When my circumstances aren’t dire, my Bible reading can become less desperate and my prayers contain less pleading. It’s harder to remember we need God when we are employed, have enough money to pay bills, the kids aren’t in terrible trouble, the country is not at war and no health tragedies are occurring.
God has to overwhelm us with circumstances so we turn to Him in intimate relationship and connect to His power.
2. When we rely on God, miracles can happen.
We have no power. By that I mean we cannot dictate any specific results from our actions.
I can’t make my kids turn out. I can’t make my spouse understand me. I can’t protect myself from identity theft. I can’t stop someone from ruining my reputation. I can’t guarantee myself employment.
I can’t even make my car start when I turn the key.
But when I am driven by my circumstances to rely on Him instead of me, I am essentially plugging myself into His power instead of mine and HE HAS POWER! (God said, “Let there by light, and there was light.”) When I invite Him into my circumstances then He can change me into someone who is more mature (James 1:2-5), looks more like Christ (Romans 8:28-29) and when her faith is tested it is found of greater faith than gold (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Sometimes we are the miracle wrought in our circumstances.
Other times miracles occur in our circumstances.
When I invite him into that conflict, then He can change hearts. (I may have had a conversation with someone but He allowed the person’s heart to respond. I cannot make that happen.) When I invite Him into finances, He can lead the way to providing our daily bread. (I can apply for jobs, but can’t make someone interview me. I can go on an interview but can’t make someone hire me.) When I invite Him into my job then He can protect it. (My car works well enough to get me to work every day. God gives me the mental abilities to run a project well. God lets me catch mistakes before I make them.) Such things are not seen as miracles when we are not plugged into God’s power in full recognition that we did not have the power to pull any of the aforementioned items off.
A woman steps out in faith to begin helping girls to become rescued from sex trafficking and A21 is born. A man surrenders his life to Jesus and Campus Crusade for Christ is born. A man starts a church in Georgia and North Point Community Church is born.
None of the leaders who began the above organizations could give credit for the results of their faith to a good business plan, enough starting capital, or any other human factor. The results have been so stunning, they can only be attributed to God.
A woman who isn’t famous opens her mouth to share the gospel with an employee at a Dunkin Donuts and a child of God is born. Another woman in a small neighborhood opens her home to host a Bible Study and several women become Christians.
Every time the soul of a person becomes connected to God, something eternal happens and it’s a miracle that can only be attributed to God.
2 Corinthians 4:8 says, But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
We gain the ability to live a life that makes people think, “That life is God-sized.” when our circumstances are larger than our ability and God is asked to show up…and He always shows up!
3. When miracles happen, God gets due credit, not us.
When He is the power…when He is invited into overwhelming circumstances…then He gets all the praise. He resolved the conflict. He found the job. He provided the meals. He provided the vision. He made people show up. He allowed the event to go well. It’s all about Him, which is always true, but we don’t always live that reality on a moment-by-moment basis unless our circumstances are overwhelming.
So folks, I plan to talk with God shortly about how to stay desperate for Him even when life is NOT bone-crunchingly hard. I want to be desperate for Him every minute because He rescued me from darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the Son He loves (Colossians 1:13). I am going to heaven and I get to live this life in communion with the God who created the heavens and earth. What?
Let’s not be people who only reach for Him when life is hard.
And let’s also understand that when life is hard, things are exactly as they should be.