Have you ever heard the line that girls are easier to potty train than boys? Who ever said that was definitely speaking something not true (at least in my household). Because my son was a breeze to potty train, and my daughter could care less. She is almost 3 and we have been working on potty training all summer to get her ready for school. She doesn’t care, and she isn’t phased by rewards… like the Anna and Elsa doll she wanted… that is until we told her that she couldn’t get it until she went potty. And she kind of lost interest. (side note: I actually ended up giving her the dolls a few weeks later, because I mean, she is cute, and she adores them)
Yeah, girls being easier than boys is a myth in my house. And while we are on the topic of myths, I wanted to address a spiritual myth that I have come across over the years.
God will never give us more than we can handle.
I hear this all the time. Like all the time. But there is one time that specifically sticks out in my mind. A grown (my parents age), mature, spiritual leader said this to me when he was going through a hard time.
My heart kind of broke a bit that moment. God never, ever promises He will not give us more than we can handle. In fact Jesus says In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world. John 16:33
There have been so many times over the past few years, where I felt like I was dealing with more than I could handle, and, it felt like more than I could handle, because it was. He will always allow more than we can handle, so that we can lean on Him. If we could walk through life with what we can handle, we wouldn’t need Him at all, so yes He will give us more than we can handle, so that we can turn to Him. So He can be our strength.
And not only will He allow more than we can handle so that we can fully rely on Him, in fact, sometimes He will even test our faith.
Genesis 22 opens with God testing Abraham. And when scripture says “test”, it doesn’t mean an easy quiz where you know the answers off the top of your head. No, this is more of a deeply trying time. A time that proves something, or determines the quality of something.
God was about to truly test the quality of Abraham’s faith.
“God himself will provide the lamb.” Genesis 22:8
So, He calls to Abraham, to tell him to take His only son (his promised son), whom he loved very much, and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.
Hmmm, has God ever promised you something, you received it, and you have loved it, but then God asks you to sacrifice it, give it up, as an offering to Him? Well, that seems like more than I could muster up the courage to do.
But Abraham is obedient. He believes God will provide, even though God never actually promised that He would. He tells Isaac that God, himself, will provide the lamb. Something that just stuck out to me as I am typing this was that Abraham says “God, himself.” Like he knew that nothing else was going to provide for them in this situation. The burnt offering was going to only come from one place. God.
Scripture doesn’t mention this, but as Abraham was obedient and he was surely trusting God, I bet it felt like more than he could handle when he was bounding Isaac and placing him on the altar. And as he reached out for the knife to slaughter his son.
Was he still believing that God was going to provide as he reached for the knife?
Was Abraham still believing that God was going to provide as he reached for that knife? Are you believing that God is still God, as you are coming to the end of your rope? When you are carrying way more than you can handle? And when you have laid down your sacrifice and it is laying on the altar, and the thought begins to sink in that God just isn’t going to show up?
Obedience is hard, and sacrifice can feel like more than we can handle. Life can feel like more than we can handle. What we are carrying can feel like more than we can handle.
The Lord Will Provide.
Many of you know the end of the story here. An angel of the Lord calls out to Abraham from heaven, and tells him not to lay a hand on the boy. And there was the ram in the thicket. Not a lamb, a young sheep, innocent and pure. But a ram. An adult male sheep, signifying strength.
And Abraham named this place “The Lord Will Provide”.
There was another time a promised Son was taken to be sacrificed. But this time it wasn’t a test. This time the Son wasn’t spared. This time the promised Son carried our weakness, and was weighed down by our sorrows.
God will allow more than we can handle, because His strength is made perfect in our weakness. He is glorified through it. Abraham probably didn’t understand what was going on, but Jesus did. The road, for Abraham had to have felt completely uncertain, but he walked forward in faith. He walked forward in obedience. And God will sustain us through faith and obedience. He will never lead us to a place where He has not gone before us.
“Jesus came and stood among them.” John 20:26
But here is the beauty. There is life beyond the grave. After Jesus rose from the grave, Thomas was not with the other disciples when they first saw Him. They proclaimed they had seen Him, but Thomas had a lot of requirements in order to believe it was true. He wasn’t going to believe unless he, himself, saw the nails in His hands, put his fingers into the mark of the nails, and put his hand into His side.
It was a week after this that Jesus came and stood among them. He says to Thomas, Reach out your hand, and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, believe. The craziest thing for me was that Thomas’ reaction wasn’t action, but worship. My Lord, My God. He never reached out his hand, but only proclaimed He was God. His God. My God. Your God.
Are you walking in obedience, or waiting in fear?
Abraham didn’t require God to do anything, as he walked in obedience knowing he was about to sacrifice his only son. Thomas had a check list of things that he needed to happen in order to know that Jesus was real in order to believe.
Both men were carrying different things, and both probably felt way more than they could handle. Because obedience and faith can be painful, and so can unbelief.
We need to walk forward with the things that we carry, the burdens that seem to much to bear, because He carried them. This is what weighed Him down as He took every step all the way to the cross.
Keep walking in obedience, and as surely as the ram was there, Jesus will be there saying Reach out…believe.