Three years, three surgeries, three artificial heart valves. Mercy.
There have been times over the past three years when I have felt as if it were all too much. And kind people would say to me, "God will never give you more than you can handle."
Although it's meant to be encouraging, there's just one problem with that statement. It's wrong.
Of course, the intentions of the folks who say those words are right and good. It's the statement itself that is wrong. It's actually a misquotation of a verse in the New Testament, I Corinthians 10:13, which says,
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
So there is a promise that you will not face more temptation than you can bear. But hardship, difficulty, adversity? No. There is no promise that you will not face more hardship than you can bear.
That would be very bad news if it not for one thing: You don't have to bear it. Jesus bears it for you.
One thing I've learned over these past three years is that I am pretty strong. I can handle quite a bit. But the biggest thing I've learned is that I'm not nearly strong enough to handle everything that happens. In fact, when I try to handle things by myself, things just get worse and worse. Then I'll remember the truth, and back to the feet of Jesus I'll go. What really amazes me is that He never runs out of patience with me.
This week is another anniversary, of course. Nearly two thousand years ago this week, the Son of God, who had come to earth to live as a man, offered himself as a sacrifice for us. The story is so familiar--Thursday's betrayal, Friday's crucifixion, Saturday's despair, Sunday's triumph. Every year we sing about it, we wear springy clothing and fill baskets in honor of it. It's a story worth telling and re-telling; the celebration is important.
But sometimes, in the messy details of life, we forget some of the truth behind the story. It can be so easy to feel as though we're having to deal with things all by ourselves. Even if we believe that the death of Jesus is enough to ensure that we can live with God in heaven for eternity, we sometimes forget that Jesus offers us salvation right now. "Eternal life" is not something that starts when we die; it begins now. Life with God is a present reality, not just a hope for the future.
He doesn't promise that we won't be given more than we can handle. He promises that we won't be given more than He can handle.
And that is good news indeed.