Is life giving you more than you can handle?
by Deacon Christine Maddux
I was inspired by Nate Lashley’s first PGA tour victory even before I heard his backstory. He was the last player admitted to the recent Rocket Mortgage Classic, yet steamrolled past 70 more accomplished competitors to the championship. It was an emotional win for the 36-year-old, who 15 years earlier had lost his parents and girlfriend in a plane crash on their way home from watching him play in a college tournament. As I reflected on that devastating loss, I wondered how he had found the strength to carry on. I hope no one ever said to him, “God never gives us more than we can handle.”
People often say that in an effort to comfort someone in the midst of heartbreak and suffering. It sounds spiritual, and vaguely biblical. But if you have ever experienced catastrophic loss like Lashley did, you know that those words don’t ring true. There are lots of things that simply are too much for us to handle — unless we lean on God.
I do not know Lashley, but I do know many people who have survived devastating losses by holding onto God day by day, sometimes by their fingernails. You may know some, too, or perhaps you are such a survivor yourself. And we also have a bible full of inspiring stories to fortify our faith for times when life does give us more than we can handle.
For example, Joseph embodies the lifeline of faith amid suffering (Genesis 37-50). He was betrayed in his teens by his own brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt; later he was falsely accused, stripped of a lofty position and imprisoned for years, forgotten by the man who promised to intercede for him with Pharaoh. All that was surely too much to handle, except that Joseph continued to trust God and later saw His purposes in allowing all of it: “You (his brothers) intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish…the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).
Moses faced more than he could handle when he had led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, only to find himself responsible for thousands of mutinous people in the desert with no water (Exodus 17:1-7). He did not lose faith in God, but did ask Him a plainspoken question: “What am I to do with all these people? They are almost ready to stone me.” God answered by miraculously providing water from a rock (foreshadowing the living water that miraculously flows from our Rock, Jesus).
The biblical poster child for having more troubles than one could handle is Job. He lost all 10 of his children, his servants, friends, wealth, and health. Yet in grief and faith he worshipped God, saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job. 1:20-21).
Mary watched her son Jesus hang on the cross for hours, scourged beyond recognition and bearing a crown of thorns as He died; is that not more than any mother could handle? Yet her original “yes” to God (Luke 1:38) stood firm, as she continued to trust Him no matter what. Paul suffered shipwrecks, beatings, stoning, imprisonments, many dangers, hunger, sleeplessness, anxiety, and more (2 Cor. 11:23-28), but realized that enduring all those hardships revealed Christ’s glory and power amid his own weakness (12:10).
When life hands us more than we can handle, we, too, can survive by trusting our faithful and loving God, who alone knows the whole picture and who promised, “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
The Rev. Christine Maddux lives in Sapphire and is a Deacon at Christ Anglican Church in Cashiers. Send your comments and questions to her at: email@example.com.
Originally published in the Crossroads Chronicle, July 10, 2019.