Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More Than I Can Handle?

Recently, several friends and family members have encountered tragedy of one kind or another -- death of a child/parent/spouse, a relationship ripped apart, loss of a job and/or home, etc.  One of the first things I typically see is someone telling them something we were repeatedly told throughout our journey, "Remember, God will never give you more than you can handle" (or some variation of it). And, lest anyone think otherwise, I've been guilty of saying it to others in the past. Until we went through the most severe trial/tragedy of our lives with Caleb's diagnosis, battle, and death. When I felt I had nothing to hold onto, I began scouring the Scriptures for God's promises to help. I couldn't find anywhere in Scripture where God promised never to give me more than I can handle. I found promises that I would have trials and tribulations. And I found promises that God would be with me in those trials. I think the verse people are actually trying to use is:
 "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
The problem with using this scripture for a reference during times of hardship is that it is not accurate. This scripture is referencing a temptation. defines "tempt" as:
verb (used with object)
1. to entice or allure to do something often regarded as unwise, wrong, or immoral.
2. to attract, appeal strongly to, or invite: The offer tempts me.
3. to render strongly disposed to do something: The book tempted me to read more on the subject.
4. to put (someone) to the test in a venturesome way; provoke: to tempt one's fate.
We weren't being tempted when Caleb was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We were in complete turmoil and at the end of our strength. Our entire world was crumbling around us. Actually, the apostle Paul said very accurately what we were feeling in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (emphasis is mine):
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
Paul clearly states that what he was going through was more than he could handle. So much so, that he wanted to die. But he also knew why it was happening -- so he would rely on God and not himself! Eric J. Bargerhuff wrote in The Most Misused Verses in the Bible,Surprising Ways God's Word Is Misunderstood [Kindle Edition]:
So the popular notion that "God will never give us more than we can handle" is in reality a blatant falsehood - a lie. He will give us more than we can handle, and this for the express purpose of bringing us to the end of ourselves so that we realize our very life, breath, and sustaining power comes only from God all the time. Jesus clearly said, "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
He's absolutely right! The entire time we battled that tumor, we prayed for God's will to be done and for Him to be glorified, no matter the outcome. We fully relied on God. We had to. There really was no other choice for us. Our reliance on His strength and power is the only thing that sustained us through that time and still does today as we continue to mourn Caleb's loss.

Now, were there times during that battle that I wanted to give up, just walk away from everyone and everything? Yes. I was able to bear the temptation of giving up because Jesus sustained me with the ability to overcome with me continuing to rely on Him for comfort instead of shutting myself off from the world.

I read this introduction to a book I got today called, Hope in the Midst of Tragedy, by Shelley Hitz.
Have you been through difficult times in your life? If so, you are not alone. Jesus says in John 16:33, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Notice that He doesn't say that we might have trouble or that if we have enough faith we will escape it. He clearly states that on this side of heaven we will walk through difficult times in our lives. 
And yet we have reason to hope.

This book is my own personal journey to finding hope after a tragedy hit our family. However, I did not want this book to be my story alone. Instead, I want it to be a resource for you to find hope in the midst of your own difficulties. That is why I have added the sections that you will see through the book called, "From My Life to Yours," where I add journaling prompts and reflection questions for you to apply what you are learning to your life. I pray that God leads you to find His hope no matter what you are currently walking through.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
I can't wait to get into this book! And, I think I have found a new scripture to use for anyone in the midst of a trial or tragedy - Romans 15:13. To me, it expresses the need to continue trusting in God in the midst of the circumstance while maintaining hope in Christ. It made me think about all the times during Caleb's battle that we had nothing but hope. We were at the end of our own abilities and knew that the only way we would survive was by desperately clinging to our Lord and Savior for hope, strength, comfort and mercy.

So, will God give me more than I can handle? Absolutely! And I know that He will be right there with me in the midst of it as I continue to worship and glorify Him. To Him be the glory, honor, power and dominion forever and ever!

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden


  1. May the Lord richly bless you and your family. I believe that there are many more resources that we have yet to discover in Christ, but He is sufficient, even when our hearts break. My prayer for you is that you will always entrust yourself to the One who knew full well what it was like to lose a Son. Thank you Lord for the resurrection, which is our hope that this life is only temporary but we await a reunion unlike anything we could ever picture, where all will be made right.

    Eric J. Bargerhuff

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words.