“God won’t give you more than you can handle,” we’ve all heard a time or two.
And I know those who utter these words mean well. They’re trying to encourage another person who seems to be in a hopeless situation and they really just don’t know what else to say. I must admit, I’ve said it before, too.
But a few years ago, I realized a truth that had been covered by society’s misunderstanding of the character of God.
God gives us stuff we can’t handle all the time. The whole “God won’t give you more than you can handle” thought is a myth.
Because if He only gave us what we could handle then what’s the point of Him?
When God calls us to do something, it can be exciting and exhilarating – but it doesn’t mean it will be easy.
Nothing worth experiencing or having comes easily. We have to experience the jagged path before we get to the smooth path – and even then, the path can easily become bumpy once again.
In Chapter Nine, Kristen shares a conversation she had with her husband the night before she left for her fourth trip to Kenya.
“Will this ever get easier? In five years will it still be this hard to go there, or even to stay here and do this work? Will my heart always be only half-willing to follow God?” she asked.
And when he admitted he had wondered the same thing just the previous night, he also added, “I want to help rescue girls, I want babies to be born, I want that good part – but not really the rest.”
Can I get an amen?
Don’t we just naturally tend to gravitate towards the path of least resistance?
And yet that path . . . that’s the wide path. Few choose the narrow path.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14
Kristen also shares that “If we have learned anything in this journey, it’s this: the good makes the hard worth it. But getting to the good part requires making it through the valley of the hard” (p. 148)
Kristen also includes seven things she has learned that can make doing good really, really hard:
1. Not everyone will be a fan of your dream. A woman once told Kristen that “When I look at you now, I think about poor people and that makes me uncomfortable.” It’s hard to believe that not everyone would support good but in our broken world, good can sometimes make us squirm.
2. Doing good doesn’t mean bad doesn’t happen. There’s a false belief that if we are doing something good and we meet resistance, we must not have correctly discerned God’s will. This isn’t always the case – bad stuff can happen while doing good. Think of Moses – God called him to free the Israelites. This was a good thing – and yet, he was issued a new challenge pretty much daily.
3. Some struggles intensify with your dream. When we choose to do good, the one who hates good will attempt to derail us. The more we do for God, the more of a threat we are.
4. God doesn’t always call us to be safe. In fact, when we break-free from our safety net, it’s then that we rely more upon God.
5. Striking a balance is tricky. There will be things that won’t get done during particularly busy seasons of ministry. It’s OK.
6. God will keep wrecking you. When our hearts get hardened and familiar with the heartbreak in our world, we can begin to feel hopeless – as though there’s nothing we can do to help. God will keep revealing more heartbreak to keep our hearts soft towards those we are serving.
7. God wants a pure heart. If you claim to be doing something for God’s glory but really it’s for your own glory, then He’ll have none of it.
Chapter Ten is perhaps my favorite chapter thus far because Kristen explains that one person really can make a difference.
You don’t have to start a maternity home in Kenya and move to South America to serve the orphans, widows, and the poor. There are things you can do right in your very own community.
There is need everywhere – not just in third world countries.
Kristen encourages us to think of that “one thing” – that thing that really makes you tick. Is it child slavery? Then maybe you’ll commit to only purchasing fair trade chocolate and coffee. Is is crisis pregnancy? Then maybe you’ll volunteer at your local crisis pregnancy center. Maybe you are called to visit an elderly person at a nursing home. Maybe God’s calling you to volunteer at your local humane society.
It may not be glorious or glamorous – but it’s definitely needed.
Those small things are actually big.
So for today, let’s answer at least one of the questions below:
1. When spiritual fatigue sets in, how are you renewing your strength?
2. What one thing are you passionate about? How can that passion be used for God?
3. Think of simple ways you can obey the commandment to love God and love others.
4. Was there anything not addressed that spoke to you in either Chapter Nine or Ten?