People like to say that God never gives you more than you can handle. However, it never says that in the Bible. It never says that anywhere, except in platitudes that are shared to help you feel better in a rough situation.
We’re in a rough situation now. My sister is currently in the hospital. We don’t know yet when she’ll be coming home. It’s a complicated situation, and has really shaken my entire family. She’s miserable, she hates dealing with medical personnel, and is not communicative about her needs. It’s distressing for her, and distressing for us to watch, as a family.
This comes, too, during a fairly difficult season. Not only am I six months along with what has been, thankfully, a fairly textbook pregnancy, and experiencing the mood swings and physical discomfort that comes with that, but this past week a friend of mine messaged me out of no where to inform me they did not want to be my friend anymore. As an introvert who is highly selective with their friends, this was a horrible blow to me, even after going several months without contact with this person.
And my dog, an ungrateful, difficult little chihuahua who is nearing 14 years of age, has starting having seizures so regularly that every day I wonder if I’m doing the right thing in not having him put down. Every day I try to weigh his perceived quality of life with his health issues, and I’m doubtful of whether I’m making the right decision.
This I could, perhaps, handle, except that two weeks ago, my job announced that, due to financial difficulties, all of the employees were now independent contractors, and our pay was being cut, meaning our tight budget has now almost entirely bottomed out. I don’t honestly know how we’ll pay some of our bills right now. I don’t know anything. This is more than I can handle.
I am reminded of the line from Shakespeare’s King Lear, “The worst is not, so long as we can say, ‘this is the worst.'”
I felt, two weeks ago, like the news about my job was the worst. It turns out it was not. It turns out that, in the face of the difficulties with my dog, my friend, and now, my sister, that financial problems were not the worst.
How little and petty now worries over bills and rent feel when you’re faced with the pain of losing a pet. How little that feels compared to the pain of losing a friend. And how small that feels when you see your sister in very real pain. And how helpless you feel in the midst of each wave of distress. How helpless and small and useless.
But even your helplessness will eventually feel small when you hear God saying, “all will be well” and despite your misgivings and doubts and fears, you have no choice but to trust Him. When every phrase of His is punctuated by the steady kicking (and punching, my god) of your healthy, viable child, you know that you have no control over anything. It’s all been in His hands from the start.
I know, on some level, this, right here, is why God puts us through such trials. To strip us of what we think matters, until we see, in the bare flesh, what is really important. The truth is, despite what well-meaning people say, God does give us more than we can handle. He always does, and it will always be too much for us, so long as we think that one second of worry or effort on our part will change anything.
But He never gives us more than He can handle. And He will. That’s the whole point of the Gospel story. He can handle it. In fact, He already handled it, taking your trials and tribulations upon Himself. This is not the worst. The worst already happened. And we know how it ended. We won. No matter what it looks like from this angle, this tragic looking story has a happy ending. The worst is not.