Quite a few of my friends lately have been going through some really rough times. I mean, real, gut-wrenching, ‘don’t want to get out of bed’ struggles.
I overheard someone tell one of them, “God does not give you more than you can handle.” Even though that message was meant to encourage, I personally could not really agree with that statement, and here is why. That implies that God is the one giving us the bad times, the hardships, the pain; and the God that I know and have come to believe in does not do that.
Instead, I like to think in terms of this sentence, “God does not allow more than we can handle.” That statement conjures up an image of God and Satan fighting head to head; Satan and his cronies being the ones that are trying to make life miserable and God only allowing them to go so far before He steps in and says, “Enough is enough.”
Another way to look at it would be seeing the picture of loving parents who willingly allow their child to suffer natural consequences of the sinful world, either through a mistake their child made himself or because of someone else’s mistake. The loving parent stays in the background, watching, monitoring; waiting for the child to cry out, “Help me” before stepping in. Does this mean the parents do not love their child? No, just the opposite. The parents love the child so much that they are willing to allow a little bit (or a lot) of hurt to help the child grow into the mature, responsible, independent person that child needs to become in order to reach his full potential.
Does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Yes, that is what free will is all about (which is a topic for another day). Do I believe that God purposefully gives people hard times, pain, and suffering? No, that belongs to sin and the Bible states very clearly that God hates sin and all that sin represents.
Having said that, will my friends’ lives be free from the pain they are suffering right now by saying “God does not allow more than we can handle?” instead of “God does not give more than we can handle?” No, not really. Their circumstances will not change overnight. However, instead of picturing a God who is purposefully causing pain as comes to my mind with the wording in the second sentence, I instead picture God as a loving father, keeping the enemy from completely destroying my friends’ lives (or mine) when reading the first sentence. I picture God protecting, sheltering, and only allowing so much; enough to help them (or me) grow and reach their potential instead of being completely destroyed by the enemy who is trying to do just that.
I hope this encourages not only my friends who are going through some rough times, but anyone else reading this who needs extra hope today. God is not the enemy; He is the One keeping us from being completely destroyed when the bad times inevitably come.