I remember as a young mom, feeling like my whole world was imploding around me. Lyme disease ravaged my body; the medical treatment put us deeply in debt; our house was falling apart, and our friendships were strained from the stress of it all. My symptoms took on a life of their own, and their unpredictability kept me in a constant state of fear.
One day, I dragged myself to church with my hubby and three sons when an older woman stopped me to see how I was holding up. I intended to plaster on a fake smile, tell her all was well. But instead, my eyes filled with tears, and the words tumbled out of my mouth.
She put her hand over her heart, put a little distance between us, and forced a smile. “Oh well. God won’t give you more than you can handle.” And then she walked away.
Her words didn’t help. They hurt.
So, let’s talk about four common myths Christians believe and why they’ll keep hurting us until we know the truth.
- God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle ~ This is simply not true. Tell a human trafficking victim, a slave, someone falsely accused and thrown into prison, or a parent who has lost a child, that God won’t give them more than they can handle. In fact, Paul admitted as much about his own journey.
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
Later in this passage, Paul talks about how the prayers of the saints helped him endure. The sooner we trust God to deliver us more than we trust ourselves to muscle it through, the sooner we will experience God’s power and willingness to rescue us. And we need each other. The prayers of the saints accomplish great and mighty things!
- You Can Make God Love You More by Performing Well ~ This is also not true. God loved us first. His hold on us is more robust than our hold on Him. And while our choices deeply matter (we’ll cover that point in a moment), God’s love is based on His goodness. Not ours.
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
- God Doesn’t Care Where You Live or What You Do for a Living ~ Not true. God cares about where you live, where you work, and who your neighbors are. He keeps the galaxies in order, and He’s happy to show up to your daughter’s soccer game. He’s intimately involved with your life.
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.
- God is So Sovereign, it Doesn’t Matter What You Do ~ Not. True. Yes, God is ultimately sovereign, and yes, He will one day work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (see Rom.8:28), but our stewardship matters to Him greatly. Whether we’re generous or stingy, kind, or cruel, these things matter. And our choices have eternal implications.
But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.
If you’re walking through what seems like an impossible situation, call on God to deliver you. He knows when you’re in over your head. If you’ve tripped up or messed up, call on God to forgive you. He loves you no matter what. If you wonder if God cares about your story, know that He delights in every detail of your life. And, if you wonder if your life matters in the whole scheme of things, it does. So, live with eternity in mind.
It is true that we never know what others are dealing with unless they tell us. I don’t recall hearing about your illness. Thank you for sharing this message. It has really hit home for me. I try to live a life where what I do and say and how I do things reflect that I am truly a child of God. It really is important to speak of Him and not us when praying for others and letting them know we are lifting them up to the Lord. As so much of our communications are on line these days or by text message it is important to send hugs with our words and let others know they are not alone in their suffering.