Back when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in the New World, the settlers were celebrating actually being alive. They probably wouldn’t have been, if the Native Americans that were already here did not teach them how to live off the land. In the developed world, we take being alive for granted. Plenty of people would take our situation in a second.
But even though that’s true, that doesn’t make us wrong or evil for feeling stress, heartache or unhappiness for things that are going wrong for us. Unfortunately for those that are Christians, we often get the most condemnation from other Christians. When we express that we feel down, stressed, fearful or hopeless, what do others tell us? Besides the aforementioned “other people would love to be in your shoes” bit, we often hear slap-down statements like these:
“God is in control; you need to trust Him.”
“You need to be more faithful.”
“How has you devotions time been? Are you reading the Bible and praying?”
And probably the most-quoted Scripture outside of John 3:16….
“God never gives you more than you can handle.”
What would you say if I told you that last one is often quoted out of context? Crazy, right? I recently read an article that suggests God actually DOES give us more than we can handle. The premise is, if we are given something we cannot handle, we must turn to God and have him handle it. I find this concept quite refreshing. There are a number of situations in my life right now that I don’t think I can handle – mainly my wife’s physical condition, the medical debt that is now in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the rotten state of my business (I only have 1 client, and have had 3 clients hire me that turned out to be identity thieves instead of real people). If I ever say out loud, “I can’t handle this,” others usually turn to that 1 Corinthians 10:13 verse and declare, “yes, you can handle it; God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” In the article, author Lysa TerKeurst told of her cancer diagnosis, and how it actually saved her life. She was having problems in her marriage, and without them, she wouldn’t have scaled back her activities and went to get a mammogram. Without the mammogram, the cancer wouldn’t have been diagnosed early, which would have greatly reduced her odds of surviving.
When people want to condemn others for having doubts and fears, I often look to King David. Throughout the Psalms, David can be seen wailing quite vociferously, and often saying things Christians today would decry as heresy. I can’t see anyone being OK with a person saying, “but I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.” (Psalm 22:6) If you read Psalm 22 carefully, you can see it is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion, which is incredible because crucifixion had not been invented yet when David wrote that Psalm. So that might be a bad example. However, I still think people would be dismissive of anyone feeling those feelings about themselves. There are awful cries for help in Psalm 38. My all-time favorite is “I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.” (Psalm 142:4) And remember, these are the words of one of God’s greatest champions.
I read another articleabout being grateful in troubled times. The author points out, “life is too complex for us to fully understand. From our viewpoint, we can only see the present struggles we’re experiencing, but God can see the full picture. And He can use these situations for our benefit in ways we can’t begin to comprehend.” This is the area where I need the most spiritual growth. I know it’s the limitations of my human mind, which can only see the finite things in front of me. God, of course, can see all the way from the beginning to the end of time, and I need to have faith and trust that while what is in front of me makes little or no sense, it will make sense once I get through it to the other side as long as I do what God puts in front of me to do.