Last Sunday in worship, we had the privilege of joining with three young families as they dedicated themselves to raising their children in such a way that those young ones would come to experience God and accept Jesus as their savior. But, I’m pretty sure that won’t be the last time we get to do that this calendar year. Which, in my opinion, is awesome. Then, following worship I had a conversation about baptism with one of the youth. Also very exciting.
God is working in and through this community of faith, in both small and large ways. And I, for one, am excited about what the future holds for us. However, this growth brings with it a fair amount of concern as well. How do we go about meeting the needs of these young families and these young men and women, while at the same time meeting the needs of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents?
How do we help them experience the love of God that has transformed and is transforming our lives? After all, the world has changed (in some ways) from when we were growing up. Technology and other pressures have changed the way in which we communicate with one another, which has altered the very fabric of our society. Even things that might be said to provide a sense of comfort and security may no longer be heard that way.
For example, you may have heard it said “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Did you know that this saying did not come from the Bible? It’s really a paraphrase of something that Mother Teresa once said. And, I’m not sure she was right on this one.
There are a few things that bother me about this saying. First of all, it implies that God is up in heaven doling out every situation to every person on earth. While I don’t think this is beyond God’s ability, I’m not sure that we really like what it may say about God. For example, if the pipes in my house had frozen and burst during that blast of arctic weather, I’m not sure that God would have been directing that action. Or I’m not sure that I believe God directs the paths of storms to only affect those who can handle the aftermath.
Someone recently wrote that the exact opposite is true. That God will give us more than we can handle, because if we could handle things on our own, we wouldn’t need God. I think that’s a bit closer. But I still have trouble with God “testing” us in that way. It just doesn’t seem very God-like. I do believe God allows us to be tested. Just read Job, or about the temptation of Jesus if you need proof that we are tested. But in both of those situations it isn’t God who does the testing, but Satan…
Another issue I have is the phrase indicates that if life has become “more than you can handle,” then your faith must not be strong enough. I know that my experiences don’t necessarily translate to universal experiences, but, I know the weight of too much. And, if we are honest with ourselves, I think we all do. We understand that we need help. Connections. Friendship. Sometimes therapy. We need to know that “too much” is OK, with the church, and with God.
Maybe the sign in one of the restrooms here at the church building says it best, “God doesn’t give us what we can handle, God helps us handle what we are given. Together, as a community of faith, with God’s help, I truly believe we can handle it all, even when it is all too much.