Whenever the fires of life are roaring and we are going through tough stuff, it is natural to want to know why or whom to blame. Sadly, it is too often that God gets that blame. I have faced a lot of fires in my life; and some of them almost took me out. However, I have learned not only to walk through the fire, but to dance through it as well. I know, sounds crazy; but, I hate being sad and, although it took most of my life to figure it out, I have a deeper level of joy now than I’ve ever had. I still have struggles in my life, but I have learned that God is the only One I can turn to for true peace. That is because, regardless of my circumstances, I invite Him to join me in them. Blaming Him for my troubles has never been something that I have made the practice of doing; however, I know that this is not necessarily the case for many.
Some time ago, I was having a deep conversation with a friend and she asked me a question that I had been asked many times before. She was going through a tough time and knew that I had been walking through a rough season myself. After we had been talking for a while, she suddenly became very quiet and I could see her emotions rising up. Then, with a tenuous voice she asked, “Do you ever feel like God is giving you more than you can handle? I know the Bible says God won’t give us more than we can handle, but I feel like He has this time.” As I watched her emotions manifest into tears, I gently responded, “God isn’t doing this to you. Life is just hard sometimes and it can totally suck, but this wasn’t His desire for you. But now that you are in it, He hasn’t left you; He is walking through it with you. He is right here, right now.” We continued the conversation and she left more encouraged; however, her question has echoed in my spirit ever since that conversation.
It felt like the 100th time I was having this same discussion about God’s role in our struggles and sufferings. As I mentioned in Triple Dog Dare, I have been a Christian for over 30 years, and I have heard the phrase, “God will never give you more than you can handle”, countless times over those years. The assumption is that God is the one Who is giving us the troubles that we are going through; but I do not believe this is factual. Honestly, I have never understood why there seems to be a widespread need within the Christian community to give God the credit for all of our problems. I would not choose to serve a God Who sits on His throne looking down on us, as if we are His minions, deciding who can and cannot handle a certain amount of difficulty, and then assigning those difficulties accordingly. It seems like a ludicrous concept, but that is exactly what the above-mentioned phrase infers.
Here is the most important fact about the subject phrase: It cannot be found in the Bible because it isn’t there…it is not an actual scripture! For her whole life my friend believed that it was and feared that she was letting God down because she felt overwhelmed by her circumstances. But God did not create us to be His robots who were pre-programmed for obedience. Rather, He wants to be in relationship with us; but that desire must be mutual. My friend’s ex-husband chose not to be in relationship with God. He also chose to be emotionally and physically abusive and to turn that abuse toward their children; and to further the torture by dragging her through a terrible custody fight. Thankfully, he did not get custody because there was so much proof of his abuse, however, she still had to endure the court process and the fear of losing her children. God did not give her that life circumstance; her ex made his own decisions that, unfortunately, had a direct impact on her and caused the upheaval in their family.
I believe that the phrase of topic is a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which reads, “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.” Taking this scripture into the proper context, it is not referring to difficulties or suffering, but to temptations; two completely different things. The framework of chapter 10 is directed toward the temptations that the Israelites had faced, and verse 13 is a continuation of the theme at hand. It is an encouragement that temptations are normal, but that God will give us what we need to resist them. It is in no way a dissertation about God knowing our limitations for suffering.
Also, God is not a narcissistic or insecure deity Who needs to perpetually test our Love and devotion for Him. Nor does He need to give us sufferings in order for Him to prove His Love for us. In fact, He doesn’t need to prove His Love for us repeatedly at all. He already sent Jesus, Who sacrificed Himself on the cross for us…period. It’s done. There is no further proof needed of His unconditional Love for us. And yet, He continues to pour His Love into our lives because that is inherently Who He is. God is fully aware of who we are and how much we desire to live for Him. Do I want to live for Him, Love Him and please Him? Absolutely! But because I have a trusting relationship with Him…not because He needs to fulfill some kind of arrogant need within Himself.
God wants to be interactive in our lives, however, He will only move once we invite Him to. A relationship is defined as: The way in which two or more [people], talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other.1 Everything about that definition depicts an action on both sides. However, I have noticed that, when things are going well in our lives, it is too easy to forget about God and enjoy the moment or season of light. But when things take a turn and a dark season is upon us, then we turn our full attention to God, and many start to question Him and His reasons for the suffering.
I find it interesting that there is a certain level of shock and surprise whenever a misfortune intrudes upon our lives. There is nothing in the Bible that promises life will be sunshine and roses as soon as Jesus is invited to the party. God created people. People had more people. People have thoughts and emotions. Thoughts and emotions are relative. Relativity gives way to unpredictability; and it is in that unpredictability that anything can happen.
But God is faithful to do what He actually did promise to do; “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16. God wants us to come to Him with confidence, knowing that He is here for us in the good times and in the bad times. And in either circumstance He will draw us closer to Him so that we can better understand the incredible Love that He has for us. In regards to the dark nights that our souls may go through, even then “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. We can’t see what He sees, or know what He knows, but that is where faith comes in…trusting His vision and His knowledge.
God did not cause my friend to suffer at the hand of her ex, but He showed up and gave her everything she needed to fight and she won!
God did not hand me the divorce papers, but He absolutely came alongside me, picked me up off the ground and started walking me into wholeness again. I have more confidence in who I am in His eyes now than I have ever had in my entire life!
God did not give me in a violently abusive home. That was brought in by two people who did not know Him, did not know how to be in a healthy relationship and who brought in all their past hurts; first into their relationship and then into our family as a whole. But God was the One Who introduced Himself to me when there wasn’t a soul around and when I didn’t even know that He existed (The Breaking Begins). Even though my childhood life circumstances trickled down into my own family, with His help I have chosen to flip the script and turn the negative parts of our past into a positive present and future. In the last year, He has brought my children and I an incredible amount of healing and bonding because we invited Him into our pain.
God does not send the fire, but He jumps into the flames with us, protects us, teaches us and heals us. I don’t exactly enjoy the fire, but I have learned to dance in spite of them. So, the next time you, or someone you know, is having a hard time, invite God in and allow Him to do what He does best…Love you through it!
Until next time, dance it out and stay safe!