A quote often attributed to Mother Teresa goes something like this. “I know God never gives us more than we can bear. I just wish God didn’t trust me so much.” Chances are we’ve all heard this statement in one form or another. Most likely some well meaning person said this to us during an especially hard time in our lives. For many people this statement that was meant to encourage added to the discouragement. Now, not only are you going through a hard time but you feel that what you are going through IS more than you can bear and conclude that you must be failing.
One of the things I learned in the NICU with Liz is that this statement simply isn’t true. Now some of you are probably thinking I’ve lost my mind because I’m contradicting the Bible. The problem is that this statement actually isn’t in the Bible. The Bible never tells us that God won’t give us more than we can bear. Look at what the Bible actually says.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)
The Bible says that God will keep temptations to sin from becoming so strong that we can’t stand up against it. The Bible does not say that God will keep the hard times from becoming so hard that we can’t bear them. There are hard times that will come into our lives and the simple fact is that we just can’t bear them on our own.
Think about the story of Job. In what appears to be a two-day period, all ten of his children die in a tragic accident. He loses all of his wealth when raiders steal his cattle and everything he owns (Job 1). Then his body was struck with a horrible skin disease. From what we can tell this skin disease was so bad that he had bloody, runny boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet (Job 2). How many of us really think that we could stand up under that on our own? How many of us really think that anyone could really stand up under this on his or her own? We can’t.
I think that is really the point. We can’t do it on our own. We aren’t supposed to do it on our own. God wants us to know that we need Him to get us through these times. I’m sure we all say that we are depending on God and that we need His help. However, have you ever noticed how easy it is to become self-sufficient when all is well in our lives? When all is well in our lives, it is easy to forget just how much we need God’s help. God wants us to remember how much we need Him and He wants us to depend on Him. So He allows hard times and suffering to overwhelm us and remind us.
If you are going through a hard time or are suffering right now, then you probably feel pretty beat down and exhausted. If you’ve bought into the idea that God never gives you more than you can bear, you probably feel even worse because you feel that you can’t bear what you’re dealing with and therefore must be a spiritual failure. However, look at what Scripture says.
“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31 (NKJV)
Everyone gets exhausted. Everyone runs out of energy. Everyone is eventually overwhelmed by something. That is just a fact. You don’t have enough strength to make it through the hard times of suffering own your own. When you get to the end of your strength, you have a choice to make. You can try to be self-sufficient or you can admit that you need God’s help and turn to Him for strength. Contrary to the myth, this isn’t failing. Instead, it is an act of faith that brings glory and honor to God.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NKJV)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
If you are overwhelmed by your circumstances today, the greatest act of faith and strength you can make will be to turn to God while admitting your weakness and desperate need for His help.