It’s time to kill this lie.
The hardest lies to kill are the ones we want so desperately to believe. They just sound right. Like this one.
God will never put more on you than you can bear.
You’ve heard this before. It’s like a warm shelter in a snow storm.
If only it were true.
I listen to a radio show called This American Life. Every week they take a theme and share various stories surrounding that theme. Last week’s episode, “What Doesn’t Kill You,” featured incredible stories of survival through some of the craziest experiences.
The show opened with a clip from a stand up routine. The comedian started her set with this greeting:
I have cancer. How are you?
Straight deadpan. You have to hear the delivery to appreciate it. It gets worse from there. This is what the last four months of her life have looked like:
- She was hospitalized for a condition where bacteria started to eat her digestive tract. She then got Pneumonia.
- A week after she was released, her mother died in a tragic slip-and-fall accident.
- She then went through a break up.
- Finally, she was diagnosed with stage two cancer.
No joke. She ended her set sarcastically noting, “You can always rest assured that God never gives you more than you can handle.” After the stories leading up to this point, the crowd just laughed. How could they not?
Some of you reading this might be thinking, “Aha. But was she a Christian?” I don’t think so, but it honestly doesn’t matter. The fact is, the Bible offers no such promise, believer or not.
Just read the book of Job. Read John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Read a newspaper.
Broken homes. Disease. Murder. Molestation. Suicide notes left by people who found the human experience too much to handle. It’s heartbreaking.
The Bible doesn’t shy away from this. There is blood, war, rape, poverty, and racism. It’s awful, but I’m thankful for the honest depiction. Yes, there is much beauty, but life on earth can be horrifying.
This is the effect of sin. God doesn’t promise to shield us from tragedy, but He offers hope.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 ESV)
To the believer He says, “One day I will wipe every tear from your eyes. There will be no more crying, sadness, or pain.” He speaks of future, of Heaven. Until then, we cry.
God isn’t simply a being in the clouds rationing sorrow. He is a Savior to be known, our very life source. There are thousands of things we can’t handle. That’s why we need Him.
He offers transcendent confidence, love that defies logic. Christ absorbed the brunt of evil. He experienced betrayal, abuse, slander, and murder so that we might have peace in pain, not apart from it, at least not for now.
This should be the Christian message, not a cozy lie with no basis in scripture. I know the intentions are pure. I know the perpetuation is largely based on misinformation, but it sets people up for failure.
Too many have turned to God with the notion that He takes problems away, and when He doesn’t they think one of two things: He doesn’t care or He doesn’t exist.
Neither are true. God exists, He cares, and is present in suffering. He provides shelter for those who trust in Him and walks with them through unimaginable struggle. There is healing—I’ve seen it—and victory over circumstance, miracles, the conquering of death. But some leave the hospital on foot, others in caskets. We are not promised tomorrow, but hope for eternity.
Life sometimes puts more on us than we can handle. God offers sustenance and surpassing joy.
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Photo Credit: Reckless Dream Photography (Creative Commons)
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