There is a section of this website that is designated for questions, called "Ask Me." From time to time, questions come up that could have many different answers. I thought it might be fun to share one with you, especially as this one is common to all of us. How would you have answered this reader's question...
"As a minister of pastoral care, I hear all the time "I know that
God never gives me more than I can handle". Well, God may not, but life sure does. How do you deal with 1 Cor 10:13 to say that to someone? Does the Bible really mean to say that God is the giver of all things and does not give more than we can handle? Is the "testing" the temptation to lose faith in the face of calamity? "
Great question. And you are so right- life gives us way more than we can handle. I discussed it with my friend who is also a pastor and she said "you have to turn over to God what is more than you can handle." (Meaning, the stuff we can't handle, we are supposed to let God handle.) Yes! Yet, while I agree that God willingly takes what we allow God to "take" for us, and that we never have to carry our burden alone, it's still tough to hear those words in the midst of adversity. We are not very good at "casting our burdens upon the Lord." For some reason it makes us feel weak; like we can't handle it on our own- that we should be able to deal with everything life gives us and never have to be "wimpy" enough to turn to God...
"When I was a chaplain, I heard similar words from people. My response was always, "what do you think God is giving you in this?" If we feel like God is the giver of all things, bad and good, and life is just one big test to see how well we fare, then we erase our role in being agents of peace and "friends" of God, as Jesus called us.
Friends don't test one another's friendship. Friends don't cause calamity on one another to see if they will be faithful. Instead, they walk with one another and stick it out through the tough times.
God never told us we won't suffer; God only promised to be with us through the suffering.
Temptation to doubt is normal. Temptation to curse God is normal. God knows us inside and out- and knows our hearts better than we do ourselves. And God is big enough, and compassionate enough to let us shake our tiny dust fists in the air at God and still not get angry at us.
The model we see in Jesus "testing" people was never one of causing calamity on folks. It
was instead challenging (daring) them to trust God to be more loving and more steadfast than they originally thought. One way we get to model that love is just by being there for one another.
You have such a tough job. It's hard not to try to fill in the blanks for people and tell them "why" they are going through such pain. But please know that by being there with them, and allowing God to work through you by providing a holy presence to that suffering person, you are a physical reminder of the promise of God to never leave or forsake them. There is not greater call than the one you have answered. Be blessed."
That's my response.... how would you have answered? Do we serve a "testing" God? Just food for thought...