No One Said God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Bear
There’s an unfortunate misconception that once you become a Christian, you’re protected from life moments that are more than you can bear.
I’ve heard Christians say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle or more than you can bear.”
It’s a nice thought.
But I’m sorry, Darlin’, God never promised you a rose garden. (I’m sorry, also, for repurposing the lyrics of Lynn Anderson’s 1970 song.)
Nowhere in the Bible — at least I haven’t found it, yet — is there such a message.
If only there were.
Recently, I attended a funeral for the mother of a colleague of mine. The service ended with a reading of a brief message from St. Francis de Sales. De Sales was a 17th century Bishop of Geneva who was honored as a saint in the Catholic Church.
With a motto of, “He who preaches with love, preaches effectively,” he was far from what might be called a “Hellfire and brimstone” preacher. He was noted for his goodness, patience and mildness.
Wouldn’t we all like to meet more ministers of this variety?
This particular prayer is sometimes referred to as “Be at Peace.” Here’s how it was written on the bulletin handed out at the funeral:
Do not look forward in fear
to the changes of life;
Rather look to them with full hope
that as they arise, God, whose you are,
will lead you safely through all things;
And when you cannot stand it,
God will carry you in loving arms.
Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
The same everlasting God
who cares for you today
will take care of you tomorrow and every day.
God will either shield you from suffering
or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts
Strength to bear it
You may have noticed the last few lines and wondered if De Sales himself isn’t saying God will keep you from anything you can’t handle.
He isn’t. The distinction is important.
He’s not saying God won’t give you more than you can handle. He’s saying God will either protect you from suffering or will give you the strength so that you can bear it.
In my life, I’ve seen that kind of strength come in three primary forms:
- A spiritual “God moment” where you feel what I can only describe as God’s presence in a moment of calming and reassurance
- A way through the spiritual storms you may not have expected that comes out of the blue at just the right moment
- A person or people who are there to help you through
It’s not that God won’t allow you to face more you can bear: it’s that He won’t let you face more than you can bear without Him.
Maybe to non-believers, that sounds like a cop-out. But to Christians who’ve experienced those hard times, it’s far from a cop-out. It’s something that you actually experience. And if you’ve ever been in that situation, you come out of it grateful for God’s provision and more energized in your own strength.
In a way, it’s one of the oldest forms of empowerment.
I hope you never face that level of pain, but I hope that if it does come, you have a coping mechanism as strong to help you through it.