I have heard it said, especially in the last few weeks, that God will "never give you more than you can handle."
Now, normally, if I disagree with a statement that is spoken from someones personal philosophy on life, I just smile and nod. It's not necessary to foist my opinions upon someone else, especially with the intent to change personal opinions which have been hard won, formed in their own personal hard times. I want to respect those opinions. I mean, I don't have to always function as a teacher. Especially to my peers.
But lately, I feel like I'm in a graduate program for Hard Crap You'll Go Through In Life (some topics include, "How Much Percocet Can You Take Before You Become So Constipated You Think You're Going to Die?" and "It's Okay to Cuss When Your Child Dies, Even If the Preacher's in the Room"). That said, I'm going to throw caution to the wind and say that I believe the above statement ("God will never give you more than you can handle") to be patently untrue.
***Upon further reflection... I''ll temper this statement with "generally tends to be untrue"-- there are many times when He brings us through trials He has prepared us for... and I also think that this whole concept goes back to Job, and I'm a moron if I think I can adequately take it on. So I'm going to say that "patently untrue" is too strong and that the whole topic is too high for me... but I DO think that the idea that God expects finite humans to be able to handle some or all of the crap we experience--to suggest that God allowed some of the abuse I've seen my students receive because He knew they could "handle" it... no. But I do agree with a dear, wise friend of mine who felt that the Lord spoke to her heart while digging in her garden, that He had been "preparing Samantha for this her whole life." I think He does both*****
It is to be expected that, as mature believers, God will give us stuff or allow stuff that we cannot handle. And not because He's mean. It's because in our weakness, THAT is where He shines:
And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9, 10
It is not in me to handle what has happened this season. It is not in me to still be sane. When I begin to let my mind wander to the fact that my little son, whose body I watched roll and flip across my stomach, whose voice I longed for, whose presence in my body gave me heartburn every day for 6 of the 9 months, who made me laugh out loud when he poked late at night-- when I let my mind begin to imagine his precious body that was grown inside me, that came out of a place in me that is still not completely healed physically, being placed in an oven for cremation.... it is not in me to handle that without losing my mind.
But it's His grace in me.... it's His spirit. I have never understood this depth of sadness before April 28. I have never understood profound weakness of mind, heart, and soul. I have never truly understood what it meant to have nothing left of me... and I rejoice to report that there is MORE!!! That when the well of wellness was completely plumbed and found empty in my heart, suddenly grace burst forth and THERE WAS WATER!! It was not OF me, but it was IN me. My God is supplying grace where there was only despair-- His spirit in me is the strength to handle what has been given to me to walk through. It is the power of Christ, dwelling in me.
And I do not boast, except to boast that HE IS ALIVE in me! Oh, the agony to look at my son's beautiful face... to sit at the side of my bed, longing for the bassinet that was there for brief hours, staring at the empty place it left... down that path is total and blackest night-- but I am not alone, deep inside. His power is alive in me-- I can and MUST go down this path of loss. But I am not alone. YEA, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for He is with me... He has not left me-- or you-- alone.
He has allowed more than I can handle to enter into my life this season, but He did not leave me alone in it. We live in a fallen world where really, really hideous stuff happens-- I have no idea why my perfect son died, but really, why not? It's not "why" today-- it's "how" on all sorts of levels. How will I let this change me? How will I respond to this tragedy? How will my son make a change in this world, even though he didn't breathe one breath of it? How can I let God be glorified in all of this?
Tom Marshall, an outstanding speaker I heard while working in YWAM (he passed away in '93), used to say that "God works in the margins." I never forgot that idea. That in life, we do what we can, using our gifts and abilities and strengths-- but there comes a point where we run completely out of ourselves. We are tapped out. We have nothing left. It is there, Marshall, said, that we find God at work.
Friends, I find myself at the margins this season. God has given me and my family and friends infinitely more than we can handle-- and we are experiencing the grace and power of God that is perfected in weakness, living in the margins. I am further comforted by the fact that I have a TON of weakness, so that gives Him lots of room to show off...
p.s. Check out my friend's blog for some awesome music and other stuff (especially Audra Lynn's "Yet Will I Sing"). Thanks Randy!!