How Much Is Too Much?
The snow fell unrelenting. Impeccable timing for a white Christmas—even if it was the day after. Lynn was thankful her parents had decided not to drive back to Denver, but to stay two extra days so they could celebrate Kate’s birthday.
It was just after sunrise, and Lynn sat at the dining room table with her journal. The last entry was one she didn’t remember writing and the ones before that were forced exertion with minimal words.
She expected the steady falling snow or the events of the last few days to inspire her, but the inspiration came from the pinons standing a few feet from the picture window. They had her fixated, and she brought the pen to the paper.
Their branches hold tight to the frozen moisture and hang heavy beneath the weight of an accumulated burden. It doesn’t appear they can take much more before they eventually snap.
I know how they feel.
But … perhaps … they are stronger than they look.
Perhaps I am also.
This is an excerpt from the contemporary Christian fiction novel I'm working on, and it got me thinking about the saying, "God never gives us more than we can handle."
You won't find these words in the Bible because they aren't there. Because they aren't true.
At some point, I think someone took the verses from 1 Corinthians 10:13 (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 (NIV)) and over time turned them into a saying many, myself included, came to believe as biblical truth.
And then we're confused and despairing when life and its circumstances are too much for us to bear. We wonder if God has left us, forgotten about us, doesn't care, or isn't who He says He is.
But that's because we're believing an untruth. The truth is: EVERYTHING is too much for us to handle without Christ.
We weren't meant to go it alone, to figure it all out, to work harder, try harder, pray harder. This will overwhelm us, it will break us, and it will bury us alive.
When life gets hard, and it will, and before the burdens begin to accumulate one on top of the other until we feel like we'll snap, let's remind ourselves of three truths:
#1: But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Weakness isn't a bad thing despite what the world tells us. We are a weak and needy people, and we're meant to rely and lean fully on Christ. When we're alright with this truth, we can be alright to release control and dependence in our own abilities, allowing Christ's power to work within us and strengthen us.
#2: Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18
If we believe in Christ's suffering, we can believe He cares for us in ours. We can believe He weeps with us, and His heart breaks for us. But we can also believe in His strength to endure with us, that He is able to help because He understands better than anyone else. There is not a type of suffering Christ Himself did not endure.
#3: I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Phillipians 4:13
Once we accept our weakness and Christ's strength, and believe Jesus to be the best person to walk alongside us in our suffering and hardships because He knows and cares, then we are empowered to say, "There is nothing I cannot handle," and trust we are telling the truth.
Jesus, Guide us in Your word so we're able to know and understand Your truth and separate it from catchy sayings of the world. We thank You that we are in the world but do not need to be of the world. We do not need to be strong. We do not need to be self-reliant or self-sufficient. Our success is not measured by how much we can take on and accomplish alone. Strip away these worldly thoughts and replace them with the knowledge of You, Your strength, Your abilities, and Your power at work within us. In Your Holy name, Amen.