This week’s article is written by Pastor Don Long.
Maybe you’ve heard it said, or like me, you’ve even said it yourself: “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” Well, let me just say: that’s garbage and bad theology, and ultimately, not helpful. Let me explain. First, to say it implies that God causes everything to happen: the earthquake in Nepal, the riots in Baltimore, the death of a child or a young mother, leaving behind small children and a promising future — not everything happens for a reason, and not everything is caused by God. Life happens, and sometimes life gives us more than we can handle, but God can bring reason (purpose) from anything. The Apostle Paul said we can “glory in our sufferings” (Romans 5:3), and James says we should “consider it pure joy … whenever we face trials” (1:2). Why? Because through suffering, as we persevere, we grow — in character and maturity — they say. “Hope is born,” Paul says, “and hope does not fail!”
I think what we’re grasping at is to make sense of senseless tragedy in life. Good can always come from bad; “All things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). And God will lead us in the way that leads to the fullness of life; “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10: 10).
Finally, saying this suggests causality — a cause-and-effect relationship in our lives. When Jesus and his disciples encountered a blind man, the disciples wanted to know who sinned (cause) that the man was blind (effect). “Neither,” Jesus said. He turns the focus from cause to purpose. The “why” question is often unanswerable, but the “what” — what will we do, what can we learn, what must change — can give purpose, vision, and hope to our lives, and lead us to the fullness of life in Christ.