Have you ever had a conversation play over and over again in your head? Maybe in a brave moment, you met a friend for coffee and opened up with the storm that has steam rolled its way into your life. Authenticity feels good as the truth of what's really going on pours out of your mouth. Finally, the weight of keeping your struggle to yourself is lessened. Hopefully, your friend meets you with compassion and understanding, grace and truth, but regardless of her words, you undoubtedly will wake up in the middle of the night with what Brene Brown would call an "authenticity hangover."
Why did I say that?
Why did I go there?
She must think I'm crazy.
I feel so exposed.
I can't tell you the amount of "day after" texts I receive. People, replaying their vulnerable moments over and over again in their heads and the enemy interrupting them with His condemning and shameful lies. I get it, I've been there. I do it. My advice to people is the same advise I give myself when it starts circling in my head.
"Stop letting the enemy put words in your mind no one said."
For some of us I also need to say, don't let the enemy replay words in your mind people actually did say! Regardless of how the untrue words got there, recognizing they don't belong is necessary for you to move forward.
He's good at what he does. A master deceiver. An intelligent manipulator. Too skilled to waste his time making up outlandish, hard to believe lies. He would much rather craft minor distortions of the truth we've grown to love and trust. Adding a punctuation here or a period there makes an extreme difference. The enemy works all day long convincing us to embrace words our Father simply never said.
For instance, God never said He wouldn't give us more than we could handle. With the best of intentions believers have worked diligently comforting other believers through pain and struggle. Maybe we've even said it a time or two. "God promised to never give you more than you could handle." Living life with the theology; If this is what's going on, He's given it to you because you have what it takes.
I know several people who are facing major storms right now. They have no business thinking they can handle what's being thrown at them. In fact, their victory in the mist of the storms is completely dependent upon recognizing, they can't handle what's been permitted into their lives at this given moment. Imagine sitting across from one of the recent hurricane victims or someone who has lost their home in the wildfires, or loved one facing cancer, addiction or separation. Life has a way of handing us more than we can handle and the worst thing we can do is give way to the lie that we somehow have what's necessary to weather the storm.
Because the truth is, God often allows more than we can handle. Just look at the stories woven throughout our Bibles.
Moses was placed in a basket and put in the river. He had a decorated life until his anger led him to kill an Egyptian and his fear lead him into the wilderness. After years of lamenting, having all but given up on the calling he knew was deep within him, God shows up through a burning bush and hands him a task he definitely couldn't handle.
Joshua was handed the job of leading a rebellious nation of people into the Promised Land. The land supposedly flowing with their freedom (in the form of milk and honey.) Problem was taking possession of their perfect land demanded a risky battle. "Walk around a city seven times and expect victory to basically fall in your lap!" There's just no way anyone can handle such an insane invitation.
Esther was way out of her league. A Jew who grew up going against the culture was now thrown into the midst of the modern day version of "The Bachelor." Beauty treatments and herbal cleansing, all in preparation for one night, where she would spend her time with the King, hoping to win his heart. The fate of a nation appeared to rest on her shoulders. Should she be chosen, God's people stood a chance at survival. But, if the King overlooked her, choosing one of the more experienced women, her people would surely die. This is pressure she could not handle.
We could keep going. David spends the majority of the Psalms crying out to God for intervention and rescue. Even Jesus fell to his knees in the garden, drips of sweat in the form of blood making their way down his forehead as He pleaded with His Father to let this deadly cup pass Him by.
The Bible is a story full of people experiencing more than they can handle and in the midst of their reality finding the God who handles everything.
We cannot afford to put a period where God placed a comma.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it."
Other versions put a period after the word bear. But even with a period there, the very next sentence starts with the word but. The word but is a conjunction that means; on the contrary, except, or unless. Basically to add a but into a sentence is to say, "this is true, except when it's not." Paul is essentially saying, "Listen, God won't let you be tried beyond what you can bear, except when you are and then He will also provide you the strength to endure it."
Reading it with the comma and the but gives a totally different interpretation than walking through trying times thinking, God never gives too much. It actually prepares me to walk more confidently in truth knowing at different places in my life. I will find myself with more than I can handle. During those seasons, I should not spend my energy trying to find the strength to move forward. Rather, I should receive the strength He promises to give.
The Truth is: you are not meant to handle the hardship you are handling right now. Even if it's not that hard. You are not strong enough. And you don't want to be. You do not have what it takes, but you have who it takes. At the end of ourselves we are only ever at the beginning of Him and at the beginning of Him is exactly where we want to be.
It is for our good and His glory we drop our arms and surrender our fight, because when God allows more than we can handle it also comes with an opportunity to depend on His presence and experience His power. It's hard to stay dependent when life is working. But when the winds increase our eyes dart around in search of the steady. Whose going to steer this ship if it continues to pick up? Who will help us maneuver through these waves? Even when we are at our best and experiencing a vibrant, daily walk with the Father it is not the same as being at our lowest and depending on the rescue and redemption of our King.
In the middle of what we cannot handle, we position ourselves before the one who has the means to shift the mountains. We simply must not become people who allow the presence of our storms to leave us doubting the presence of our God. He is there. He's not worried. He's not afraid. He doesn't have His hands full. This isn't out of His ability. He won't leave you, won't forsake you, won't forget you and it's not even possible for Him to fail you. Our storms draw us to His presence. He may have allowed more than we can handle, but it is not more than He can handle.
When God allows more than we can handle it also becomes an opportunity to experience more of His power. Imagine Peter had their been no storm in the middle of the night. In the midst of the storm that was way too much for Peter, he was given the invitation to step out of the boat and walk on water. Peters storm provided the perfect opportunity for Jesus's power to intersect his life in a tangible, transforming way. It's a sad thing when we see believers living life day to day depending on and trusting in themselves. Most of us have grown up in cultures teaching us to buck up and handle what's in front of us.
It's when we let go, He grabs on.
Paul says, "Three times I've pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'my grace is sufficient for you because my power is made perfect in your weakness,'" (2 Corin 12:8.) We know Paul was talking about a thorn in his flesh he wished for the Lord to remove. We don't know what the thorn exactly was only that three different times He's entered into a season of pleading with the Father to remove it. Not just three times of asking once, but three seasons of wrestling for his healing. And the Father said no. To Paul. The guy who was literally turning the world upside down for Him. Why?
"Paul, I'm not taking it away. My grace is sufficient for you because my power is made perfect in your weakness. Paul, this is how you experience me. This is how experience my strength. This is how you know me more intimately than anyone around you. This is how we do this. When you are weak, I am strong. and so I will not take it away."
Oh if we could only be as quick to respond as Paul, "Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why for Christ's sake I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong," (2 Corinthians 12:9-10.)
Our weakness initiates His strength. And that's the place we want to be. The supernatural power of God in us is what enables us to walk through the fire and not be burned. We don't have what we need because we have who we need. There is an radical awareness of His presence and power when we allow Him into our impossible situations. It's palpable to us and everyone around us. You know when the presence and power of the living God is empowering someone to walk through the impossible because it transforming to everything in it's path.
Choosing our weakness is choosing His strength. And the invitation is to do it with both big and small. I don't know what you are facing right now, but I hope and pray it's more than you can handle. Not because I want hardship and suffering for you, but because I want presence and power.