Is there always a clear, obvious lesson to learn in all difficulty or at times are we called to press on despite how difficult life is without finding a “ah-ha moment” for each specific hardship? So often I feel I “can handle” or press through difficult times if I see a purpose or something I’m learning, but there are times where I don’t see a clear, definitive purpose or lesson in a specific suffering or hardship. I guess there is a common purpose to suffering or hardship, a reminder that I am not God and that I am dependent on Him, and that this world and humanity are not as it was intended. This world and those in it are to be redeemed and restored. This is not it! Part of accepting that reality includes having to accept that I may not always see or understand right now the “why” of what I’m experiencing. That is really hard for me. I like understanding the deeper reasons for things.
And remembering that there was never a promise for an easy life, even if I’m striving to live out a life of faith in God. I know that on a cognitive level, but at times, when life gets tough, I resent those times and wish that living a life of faith came with a guarantee that things will go smoothly and easily.
A quote that has challenged me in recent years humbled me today: “Your character is forged and your heart is revealed when life does not go your way.” Today was an incredibly rough day for Ryan, Evan, and myself and the heart that was revealed in me was ugly! And I honestly don’t know if my character was forged either as I gave into frustration, anger, sarcasm, and impatience today. We spent a lot of money and time today on medical appointments because Evan has stagnated regarding his weight gain. He has weighed twelve pounds for the past few months. We got no definitive answers today, just a laundry list of additional tests that need to be done. We were told that these tests will help determine whether he has something as minor as a food allergy or whether he’ll end up diagnosed with pancreas problems, celiac disease (the fancy name for being gluten-intolerant–a permanent, life-long condition), or even cystic fibrosis (which has an average life expectancy of 35 years). On top of all of this, we’re going into the third month of Ryan being unemployed and the return phone calls he has gotten, have been for temporary, out-of-state work. And although I continue to be thankful that I have a job, especially as it provides us medical insurance, recent changes at work have made it much more difficult to come and go to all the medical appointments Evan has. Ryan and I both had moments today where we just wanted to “throw in the towel”…and yet it’s not an option.
I always hear people say “God will not give you more than you can handle” and I don’t know where that saying comes from. I don’t see it stated anywhere in the Bible. I wonder if people believe this so it isn’t implied that God is a sadist, or whether they say this to others because they think it will encourage the person going through a difficult time. By stating this, do they think it will cause the person to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and push on because if God only gives us what we can truly handle, then it all comes down to willpower?
I do know that God promises to walk through difficult times/suffering with us, and that He will give us the strength to overcome. He also promises that we will not be alone in whatever we go through, but honestly, I believe that He will give us “more than we can handle” at times, otherwise we wouldn’t ever need to lean or depend on Him. And if you search the Bible, there are multiple stories of men and women being given more than they can handle, not God giving people just up to the limit of what they could handle. Even Paul, who many put on a pedestal regarding having faith, “despaired of life itself” at one point in his journey. He later stated that God allowed the experience so he and those with him learned to rely not on themselves, but on God (II Corin. 1: 8-9).
II Corinthians 4 has challenged me for years. I was drawn back to these verses today:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body…16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”