There is a saying out there that I’m sure we’ve all heard someone say to us during tough times and hard situations. God never gives us more than we can handle. I’ve heard it. I was told that when I was dealing with constant sickness years ago, I was told that when I began voicing my struggle over my father and brothers drug addiction, I was told that when my father died. I’ve been told that all throughout my life. When a girl struggles with anxiety and tends to worry about more than is normal, she gets told that a lot. Most people would say that saying helps calm their nerves, but for me…it just made things worse. Before I rededicated my life to Him and began to lay my heavy baggage at the alter, I was very aware that the popular saying was a lie. God had given me way more than I could handle on my own. My family couldn’t help. My friends couldn’t help. No one could get rid of those problems, even with hours spent praying for me, even with all of the sweet advice, until I was willing to open my eyes and realize that God was ready to bare my burdens if only I’d hand them to Him. But you see, I couldn’t deal with those problems. A dying, drug addicted father is way more than a young teenage girl can handle on her own. The stress that this life had put on me was way more than I could handle on my own. Most people would say that I was coping, and I guess that just says that I’m a good actor, because I wasn’t. I wasn’t sleeping at night. I had no peace in my life.
And then, I turned it over to God.
I’ve always thought that I’d be one to fall into some sort of addiction very easily because of how I am. How I think. How I feel. I’m highly sensitive, I have an anxiety disorder of some sort, I get depressed very easily. A few more years of this kind of stress and I think anyone without God would be a drug addict or an alcoholic or something. I don’t know what I’d turn to, but without God, there would have to be something. Some sort of horrible replacement. I come from a long line of addicts, it’s true. A long line of people who have mental issues. Lots of anxiety. Lots of depression. Lots of problems. We’re a happy, solid bunch. (I say this with sarcasm.) But then…I turned it over to God. Just like a lot of folks in my family did. And that made all the difference in my life.
Look at some heroes of the faith. Do you think they could handle life without God? Do you think that King David could’ve handled losing so much of his family without God? Do you think that Daniel could’ve handled being thrown into the lion’s den without God? Just like Daniel would have been devoured by lions if he did not have God there to intercede, we would be devoured by sin. Maybe your problem wouldn’t be addiction. Maybe it would be stress. Sinful relationships. Failure. Who knows, there are a lot of places that we could all end up. Maybe you’ll have a prosperous life like the Bible says happens to unbelievers, but in the end, you lose it all. You lay on your death bed somewhere and realize that you need God now more than ever. You needed Him through your entire life…and now that you have Him, it’s too late to serve Him. Either way…we need God. We can’t handle this life without Him, or anything that it throws at us. Sometimes, God Himself gives us more than we can handle on purpose. Look at Jonah- my Pastor asked this question a few weeks ago. “Who tossed Jonah into the sea?” Who created that storm that made the boat toss and turn? That made even the seasoned sailors fear for their lives? In Jonah chapter 1, we read that the men tossed Jonah into the sea, but then later on, we read that God did. God worked through that storm that He created and He tossed Jonah into the sea in order to bring Jonah back to Him, and get him to where he needed to be. This wasn’t just about getting Jonah somewhere physical like Jonah, he needed to be in a better place spiritually, too. Sometimes, God gives us more than we can handle so we turn to Him.
Lazarus couldn’t have raised himself from the dead. Jonah couldn’t have survived that storm. Then, we can think about heroes that we grew up learning about. Could the man who wrote the hymn It Is Well survive all that he went through and still be able to say it is well with my soul? He lost his entire family. Everything. But still, it was well. He had a peace that no one could give him but Jesus Christ. Could Dietrich Bonhoeffer go to the place where he would be killed with peace in his heart without Jesus Christ interceded? Could Polycarp stand at the feet of his killers still proclaiming God’s name without God Himself interceded for him? Those men stood up for God even when it meant dying for Him. That is…a lot of stress. How could they handle that with peace when we can barely handle the stress of waiting in a long line at a store without having a panic attack?
This life. Man, is it terrifying. We’ve got that scary election coming up and we’re stuck between two candidates, both of which I’m not entirely fond of, but we’re stuck. We’ve got hurricanes, crazy storms hitting us every time we look up. We’ve got riots and angry people killing others based on what kind of uniform they wear or what color their skin is. Hate is everywhere. How do we handle this? Maybe I’m weak, but I can’t handle my life without God. I can’t handle everything that gets thrown at me without Him. But that’s the point. The point of this life was never to see who is the strongest and who can survive the longest without Him. He is the entire point. Getting close to Him, doing what He calls us to do, finding a peace that only He can offer and then going out and sharing that peace with others. That is our calling. That is our purpose. He is our purpose. It’s not survival of the fittest, and that is a good, good thing, because none of us would win in the end. Eventually, even if our life was all sunshine and rainbows here on earth, we wouldn’t be able to handle going to the judgement seat and getting into Heaven without God.
Isaiah 43:2 says this, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” God gives us this kind of promise time and time again for a reason. He is fully aware that without Him, those rivers would drown us. That fire would burn us. Why else would He offer to protect us from them? And He is always willing to be with us as we go through the fire and the water and the dark valleys, we just have to be willing to give our lives to Him. God sends us storms to remind us that we still need a Savior. We still need to repent and turn our lives over to Him. What would the point of them be if we could handle them all by ourselves? Then, there would be no need for God.
And then, even after we come to Him, He’ll still use storms. There’s this saying…
Why do Christians still suffer? Why am I still dealing with my problems? Why doesn’t God remove them the moment we’re saved? Because we are always, always growing. We always have to be growing spiritually. There will never be a point in this life that God will look down on us and say, “That Christian is perfect. They’re done! They don’t need to grow anymore.”David Ring is a preacher who has cerebral palsy, and he once hinted on this topic at a Gaither concert. He said that he is still in the oven and God is still cooking, and he’s only going to be ready and perfect when he gets to Heaven. Our journey is over the day we get to Heaven, not a day before. That is when we will be made perfect, but now is not that time. We still have to grow. I have to swallow my pride and thank God for the storms that He has sent me because those storms have molded me into who I am today. Those storms are my biggest inspirations, the best reminders to keep going and to stay close with God so I don’t lose everything based on my weaknesses, and boy, am I weak. The moment I turn away from God is the moment that I stop growing as a Christian, and the moment that I lose everything I had with Him. And I have a lot with Him. He uses these storms to remind us of all that we do have, so that we can have a thankful heart. He uses these storms to remind us that with God on our side, we can get through anything. These storms give us a testimony, a way to reach others, and a great reason to reach others. Don’t we want others to have that peace from God?
What does God give us? He gives us a lot. He gives us storms, hard times. He tosses us up but He is capable of picking us back up. He gives us peace, and grace, and the strength to get through. God gives us a lot.