(This is the second part of the series “Does God give us more than we can bear?”. Here is the first part of this article)
One thing that the phrase “God doesn’t give us more than we can bear” can create is a sense that we should be able to “face this on our own.” As in, not burden other people with our stuff.
Well, this would certainly not be a biblical concept either! Certainly, there are some things that we should face on our own – Galatians 6 talks about how we have some burdens we need to bear…
But it also talks about burdens too heavy for us to bear… and instructs us…
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:1-2)
Look at James 5:13-16:
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed…”
“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (I cor 12:26)
Do these sound like we are meant to face hard things alone, or is it more likely that we are supposed to share our burdens and pains together? Then why would we come to church and pretend that only good things are going on in our lives? We should be quick to share with one another…
In fact, sometimes in the Evangelical world we forget that we are meant to be God’s gifts to one another! Consider the case of Adam…
“…The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him…”
Notice how God did not just provide more of Himself to Adam! God’s provision for Adam’s situation was to create a helper for him… another person. When Jesus sent out 72 people to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven (“like sheep among wolves”) He sent them out in pairs.
We need each other and whether the cultural ethic is that would should be able to face our own problems all on our own, pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps (even if you are from Texas (like me), Wyoming, Australia, or other places that idolize rugged individualism), the Christian ethic is to live life together.
Praying for one another…
Bearing one another’s burdens…
God will not let us face us more than we can bear? Rubbish. But He does give us one another to help us bear whatever we face.
But I am not done yet. There will be a part III as well, I think…
Many have been blessed by a wonderful little book entitled “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. One commenter has already mentioned this devotional entry from August 18th:
“EXPECT TO ENCOUNTER ADVERSITY in your life, remembering that you live in a deeply fallen world. Stop trying to find a way that circumvents difficulties. The main problem with an easy life is that it masks your need for Me. When you became a Christian, I infused My very Life into you, empowering you to live on a supernatural plane by depending on Me.
Anticipate coming face-to-face with impossibilities: situations totally beyond your ability to handle. This awareness of your inadequacy is not something you should try to evade. It is precisely where I want you–the best place to encounter Me in My Glory and Power. When you see armies of problems marching toward you, cry out to Me! Allow Me to fight for you.”
Do you see an additional problem to the idea that God will not Give you more than you can bear… or even allow you to face more than you can bear?
As one author noted about children – “Our children need to be needy so that they will need God.” (Kathy Collard Miller).
We need to face more than we can bear… so we can be reminded that there is one who will bear things with us and for us. Could we be courageous enough to
Look, I don’t want to be cheesy here, but if my office burned to the ground, one of the few things that would survive would be a little Scottish man that my in-laws gave me. Why? Because he is ceramic. He knows fire. He came from fire. If we are going to face what we are going to face, we had better go ahead and get used to the fact that we are going to face more than we can bear.
That is why we need a savior. Because we face more than we can bear.
We are just big balls of grief rolling around gathering new grief… that we don’t get over, but we do get used to.
But we have someone who will bear it with us… for us. Here is a verse about burdens:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (I Peter 5:6-7) Guess what you cast onto others? Burdens. Things we can bear.
So, in summary, isn’t what we should be saying to someone (especially when it is us) who faces the storm, the nightmare, the cataclysm, and even the end, be…
“God will never give you more than
Ok, last chapter, I promise this time…
(dedicated to Sara Groves, Bebo Norman and Andrew Peterson who I am listening to in concert at my church as I write this… and especially to Andrew, who sang my very favorite Rich Mullins song on this, the 16th anniversary of his death)
Then, in what ways is the statement we have been looking at true… or at least accurate?
Well, we ended last week with the thought that though God WILL give us more than we can bear. He WILL let us face more than we can bear. But He will never let us face more than HE can bear.
Or, put in other words “In this world you will face trouble… but take heart; I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)
So, then, how might it apply to tough moments in our lives?
There is nothing that you or I will ever face that will force us to lose our faith… our trust… our hope in Christ and His Father and Their Spirit.
Maybe that is what we are trying to tell each other, frail children of dust that we are… “Hey, remember God will never allow you to face something so awful that you will have no choice but to fall away and be lost again in darkness. Will you face trouble? Yes. Will it be more than you could bear alone? Yes. Will I be there to bear it with you? I hope so. Will He who cares for you bear it with you? Yes. Will you feel it? Sometimes and sometimes not. Can you always see it? Sometimes not at all.”
Maybe that is what we are
So, when we are “feeble and crushed” when we “groan because of the tumult of our heart,” (Psalm 38:8) we can remember the truth that we cannot always see or feel… that
God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6) and that
We can never be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39).
Carrying more than I can bear,
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (1 Co 12:26). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
You’re not alone and we would love to join you as you take steps toward a stronger, healthier future.
I believe we all need a safe place to explore the issues that may be preventing us from experiencing a full and satisfying life. My greatest reward as a therapist is helping my clients examine ways to make the changes in their lives that will allow them to look forward to the future with hope. I am a bilingual (Spanish-English) LPC.
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