The ups and downs of life don't follow a calendar.
Joys and sorrows, triumphs and disasters keep their own timetable, don't they? Just when you think your heart can't handle anything else, something else comes along.
In the past few days, I've experienced more joys than anyone deserves. My youngest son just finished his second year of college, where he made the Dean's List last semester. My middle son just learned that he was accepted to a highly competitive graduate program.
On Mother's Day, my middle son prepared the most delicious brunch I've ever eaten. Here's a photo he posted on Instagram:
Today is my oldest son's 26th birthday, and he is at home today to celebrate. He's about to start Advanced Flight Training with the U.S.Navy, so his being here for his birthday is a big deal.
It's hard to contain all the happiness this May!
Yet there have been other times when I've wondered if my heart could contain all the sadness or stress instead of happiness.
Like that year when my mother died two days before Thanksgiving.
Or when my husband had major open-heart surgery just a few months after our son had major open-heart surgery.
The truth is that the happiness and the sadness are sometimes too much to handle.
In those stressful times, I've often heard people say, "Don't worry; God will never give you more than you can handle." And while I appreciate their intentions, that's simply not true. They may think they're quoting scripture, but the passage (I Corinthians 10:13) actually says this:
"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.
Whether from happiness or sadness, there's no guarantee that your heart will be able to take what comes your way in this life. The good news, of course, is that you'll never face more hardship than God can bear. God's grace is sufficient to our needs, whatever they are.
And God has arranged a way for you to handle things. The beautiful triune God created us to live in relationship with one another. So when Romans 12:15 says "Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep," it's not just good advice. It's imperative.
Even as I was counting my blessings and enjoying an amazing Mother's Day this week, there were many women and men—my sisters and brothers—who were barely hanging on.
As I celebrate my son's birthday today, there are many women and men—my sisters and brothers—who are reeling from the death of a child.
God help us, we can't do this alone.
We shouldn't try. We were not made to do it alone. We were made to live in real relationship. Jesus made that life available to us, and the Holy Spirit provides the power to do it.
Is your heart so full it feels as though it will burst? Are you experiencing more happiness or sadness than you can hold? Please share your story. Let's do this together.