“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you think you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Mark Twain
One of the main things I hear people say about the Bible is this: “The Bible says that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”
I’m hear to tell you the Bible does NOT say that! Can we all just put this one to rest? This statement is not only untrue. It’s not only unhelpful. It is destructive.
The statement likely comes from a misuse of a text in I Corinthians 10:13 that says, “…God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
The main problem with it is the phrase “God doesn’t give you”, and what it implies. It implies that God gives you hard things. God gives you suffering and pain.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. God is Love. Divine Love does not give out suffering and pain. Nor is it given by God just to see how we’ll handle it. As if it were some kind of test to pass or fail.
What we can say is this:
We are here to learn and grow. Life operates on the Other Side (and here) in ways we have mostly forgotten when we incarnated here. That forgetting and the mystery it creates for us as humans, are part of the way we grow. The way we grow into newer dimensions of trust in God. Growth in faith comes from trusting in what we cannot see and know.
I believe we must remember that the difficult things we experience here often have their origins in many sources.
1. As humans, we live in a dualistic world
There is light and dark. Love and fear. Joy and pain. And all of these are really two sides of the same coin that are working together.
For example: the building block of life here is the atom. An atom has a proton (a plus energy or force) and an electron (a negative energy or force). Without the interaction of the proton and electron, the negative and the positive, there would be no building block for life. No life at all!
Similarly, a deeper joy often evolves from pain. Courage develops through fear. For there is no courage without knowing fear. Through knowing weakness, we come to know strength. And Light comes into our consciousness from times of darkness. As they say, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”
The point being: what we attribute to God, or blame God for, is simply the nature of life here. And within that nature is the benevolent nature or Grace of God. Working for our eventual growth and healing.
2. Pre-birth planning.
We often forget that some of what we experience here was set into motion before we (our soul) arrived here as a human. Certain things were set up in agreement with other souls and circumstances for everyone’s mutual growth and learning.
Not everything however! Much is left to the choices we make along the way. There are always many possibilities that could happen, depending on our choices and free will. If we choose A, then B will naturally happen. Which will in turn lead to C…..
Often the major structure or architecture of our lives is put into place before we arrive. For example, the family we are born into. Or the body our soul chooses to incarnate into, which will bring its own life and soul shaping experiences.
But here is what is important to remember. It is our soul (along with the guidance of our elders and other higher beings) making these choices. I’m told that younger souls have less input. Older, more mature souls have more input.
Karma is not punishment. Karma is like those other forces mentioned that work with what we call the ‘negative’ (the darkness, the pain) to hopefully bring about our growth and healing. Karma is always for our growth and healing.
Karma is not God ‘giving’ us something. It’s the result of our past choices. Karma is life happening for us and not to us.
4. Our own choices have consequences.
Sometimes our own choices bring suffering upon ourselves. Consequences are not “God giving us what we can handle.”
5. But sometimes there is just plain mystery.
We can only walk in great humility here. We are living in the midst of something far beyond our human understanding and limitations.
So many times in my ministry I saw people going through unspeakable suffering. And in the moment, it was too much to handle.
In those times, please do not say to someone, “God never gives us more than we can handle.” To the one feeling overwhelmed, that can be heard as “I should be able to handle it.” And they don’t need that ‘should’ added on to what they are already dealing with.
What is needed is compassion, empathy, and a listening presence. For that is the very definition of God.
God is Love! So you are too!
Pastor Tim Tengblad