I grew up in a family of faith, in the church, surrounded by the teachings of Jesus. I was taught to read my Bible, to talk with God, to rely on Him. I believed that He was present, an authority and One who should be obeyed!
I also knew the Bible’s teachings on His compassion; He was a rock, a safety net, One who was always present even when all others fell away. Somewhere those childhood years, I was taught that God will never give me more than I could bear. I image it had something to do with the passage in 1 Cor 10:13:
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
I liked this passage. It was assuring, made me feel safe and comfortable inside. The God who ran the world had me in His hand and was looking out for my affairs. Somehow, through that passage I formed this idea:
“He’s got me! And I’ll never have to deal with more than I can handle!”
I’ve heard famous preachers say it. I’ve heard friends and family proclaim it as encouragement. I’ve said it, taught it to children in the church. I believed it! But no more.
When sickness rattled my world, this “truth” I held onto was hit by the sledgehammer of life. It shattered my belief into a thousand fragments. This God was indeed giving me more than I could handle! In fact, sometimes I was so brain-dead, all I could do was exist and sleep, being too weary to even eat or drink.
For a while, I was so sickly my brain couldn’t process anything. All I could do was cry out to my Father, telling Him I hurt, that I didn’t understand what was happening, that I needed to see and know Him. And that I really didn’t understand!
Gradually, oh-ever-so-slowly, the light dawned into the weary brain that lived in my broken body as I contemplate life: “the way of escape…what is the way of escape?”
I had always assumed it was God’s hand holding back the things that would overwhelm my faith, that He’d let me get a taste of it but never allow things to reach their full force.
The way of escape? I always thought of it being my own strength and abilities, that God would never test me beyond what my own strong mind and will could withstand.
The way of escape turned out to be nothing such as I had pictured! The way of escape lay on a pathway I knew little of, one I had rarely walked. The way of escape had little to do with my own strength, but it had everything to do with my Lord and Friend!
To some of us, He does give more than we can handle. He does allow us to be overwhelmed. He allows things to meet us that we cannot possibly deal with. And the outcome?
An opportunity to experience the way of escape, a sweet reliance upon His strength. Acknowledging I cannot do it on my own. Acknowledging that I am weak, simple, incapable. Acknowledging that I won’t and can’t do it perfectly, calling out to Him for His help.
The road to be walked with broken health is difficult, whether you walk it personally or with someone else. The journey bruises and crushes so many parts of us! In many ways, its a thief, stealing what we value, sometimes even the things we thought God Himself treasured! Suddenly, the words of Jesus become sweet, hold new meaning:
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:27).
Suddenly, I understand why the poor, the sick, the oppressed and broken came flocking to Jesus and His teachings while the proud and haughty leaders of the day held their heads high in disdain. Jesus spoke of a hope and strange sort of strength that some couldn’t recognize when there was no awareness of need or emptiness.
Those within the crowds had been faced with more than they could handle. The reality of our broken world got the upper hand and crushed ’em mercilessly. Jesus’ words were refreshment for the soul. God knew! God saw! God heard! And one day, He would set everything right, yes, and then some!