Last night, I was reading a little bit of Oswald Chambers before bed, and was struck by this quote:
“God does not ask us to do the things that are easy for us naturally; He only asks us to do the things we are perfectly fitted to do by His grace, and the cross will come along that line always.” (My Utmost for His Highest)
It reminded me of how people so often say reassuringly, “God will never give you more than you can handle!”
And then life gets harder than ever before, and it makes me think all kinds of messed up thoughts, such as “God must think I’m a lot stronger than I am, because I don’t think I can handle this, but He’s giving it to me, and He wouldn’t if I could handle it!”
So I’ve tried to handle it, swinging between bitterness towards God, and a twisted sense of empowerment because God is “telling” me that I can handle so much.
I clearly remember the day Ben informed me that this idea of God not giving us more than we can handle is not actually Scriptural. God allows all kinds of difficult things to cross our paths, and He never promises it will be easy, or that we will be able to “handle” it, but He does promise that He will always be with us.
That’s really the only promise we truly need.
Maybe it’s not the one we want – only getting what we can handle would be a more comfortable promise! If it were true…
I love what Katie Davis writes about this in her book, Kisses From Katie:
“Remember, God will never give you more than you can handle.”
People repeat this frequently; I heard it when I was growing up and I hear it now. It is meant to be a source of encouragement, and it would be if I believed it were true.
But I don’t.
I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle. Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives.
….I have learned to accept it, even ask for it, this “more than I can handle”. Because in these times, God shows Himself victorious. He reminds me that all of this life requires more of Him and less of me. God does give us more than we can handle. Not maliciously, but intentionally, in love, that His glory may be displayed, that we may have no doubt of who is in control, that people may see His grace and faithfulness shining through our lives.
And as I surrender these situations to Him, watch Him take over and do the impossible, I am filled with joy and peace – so much more than I can handle. (Kisses From Katie, by Katie Davis)
What a hard prayer – asking for more than we can handle! Franklin Graham refers to it as “leaving God-space”. In his book Rebel With a Cause, he writes about how his ministry, Samaritan’s Purse, will purposely make “impossible” plans, requiring “impossible” amounts of money. If we only do what is easy, and what we already know we can do, we don’t need God for anything.
Well, that’s uncomfortable! But maybe exciting, at the same time?!
Whenever Ben and I are praying for something that seems impossible, one of us will usually remember “God-space”. And then we pray on, and don’t worry so much about all those things which seem impossible.
Sometimes God-space can feel very similar to being unrealistic or even irresponsible! But I’m also trusting that God will move us, or stop us, or put a caution in our hearts for those times when God-space starts turning into something else.
So, do you have any impossible prayers you’re praying? Any situations that are definitely more than you can handle?