When It’s Too Much

I hear it tossed around in Christian circles like pennies in a wishing well.  To the person heavy-laden with burdens, grief, fear and doubt there is bestowed on them the best scripture we know that has something to do with them and their situation– or so we think.  It’s a beautiful scripture and it goes like this:

1 Corinthians 10:13

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

The word in the original word for “tempted” can also mean “tested in a way that leads to temptation.”

With temptations, God gives us escapes.  Sometimes we take them and sometimes we don’t; but temptations and pain are two different things.  I do think that God allows us to experience more pain in life than we can bear.   Sorrow and grief are unbearable and different from temptation.  (2 Corinthians 1:8, Matthew 26:36-39)

Tell the woman who lost her husband and sister within months of each other that God won’t give her more than she can bear and she will likely throw something heavy at your head.   Ask Jesus, who, fully human, bore the weight of the world and sweat drops of blood while asking God to take the burden away, if His grief was bearable.  With pain and suffering there is no escaping (Not without numbing, that is.) Jesus asked others to pray with Him, and stay awake with Him through His passion.  His pain and stress was overwhelming, still He chose to embrace it rather than run from it or numb it.  Why?

The crazy thing about pain is that it is felt at the capacity of our ability to love.  Love and pain go hand in hand.  What we open our hearts to love enlarges our capacity to feel pain.  Think about it–many things in life wouldn’t “hurt” if we didn’t first love that thing that is now gone, or separated from us.  It was C.S. Lewis’ wife who said when looking ahead at the end of her life as she was dying of cancer, “The pain then is part of the happiness now.”  If I numb myself from pain, I also numb my heart from love and cut off my ability to give and receive it.  This is why God calls us to endure pain.  To be patient.  To “hold fast” ’til the end, because pain does have an end.  Pain has an expiration date.  Love, however, does not.  Because God is love, it will continue into eternity….long after my sorrows have been washed away.  Light years after my grief was dissolved, His love remains.  Jesus knew this and was able to endure the cross “for the joy set before Him” and even despising the shame.  Jesus knew suffering would end but love would continue.

Sometimes, in order to avoid pain, I would rather tell you that “all will be well and God will take care of you” rather than be His hands and feet for you; but living the easy life, blind to pain and suffering, or at least numb, leaves me bankrupt of the love of God.  My capacity to love will be stunted if I live my life to avoid the temporary (pain) and I will completely miss the Eternal (Love/God).

I believe God allows more pain than we can bear so that others will bear it with us.  He allows us to be alone and vulnerable so we will reach for Him and others.  He walks us alone through valleys and shadows, but if we could see with spiritual eyes we would realize how we are strengthened and carried by the prayers and thoughtfulness of others who decided not to avoid our pain, but engaged in it by being God’s hands and feet.

I no longer believe in using trite expressions, quick fixes or cure-all scriptures to cushion me from your pain.  I do believe that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, but pain and suffering are real, heavy and sometimes unbearable.  I cannot take it away from you by telling you God won’t give you more than you can bear, but I can lift one end of your stretcher, help you bear the load and carry you to Him.

My prayers for you whose load is too much….


6 thoughts on “When It’s Too Much

  1. Cate, Thank you for listening to God and faithfully posting! I would not say my burden is too much to bear, however I am so comforted knowing there is a sister who has my back. There is alot going on in my life and the life of my family right now and sometimes all I can do is stand wearily and face the battle, eyes cast down, breathing hard and waiting for the next onslaught.
    It is good to remember that there is hope and there is light and there is love!

  2. Beautifully, and more importantly, TRUTHFULLY written Cate. Thank you for putting the thought and articulation to a sentiment I’ve believed for years.
    Love you!

  3. thank you so much. I feel the burden is more than I can bear but I know God is in control of all things but we don’t understand why things happen. Prayers for my abducted kids to be found hopefully alive. May God be with them wherever they are. Thanks for the encouragement. Kay

  4. Thank you so much for posting that article. My family is struggling with so much right now and its hard to see anything getting better. But it made me realize when i was reading my bible and really studying it i was doing just fine, now that i havent been doing that, things have gone so bad to the point where my marriage isnt working out for the best anymore. But this article givesme hope and strength to carry on and be a stronger person for myself and my family. Thanks once again for writing this article

    1. Lana,
      I hear your wounded heart in your comments. I am so sorry for what you are going through and the hopelessness you are feeling as you face it. Let me tell you something I have learned as I have faced hopelessness many many times–I need other people in my life to lift me up in prayer and hold me accountable.
      Sometimes our circumstances are bigger than us. Often we need someone else to pray for us daily, twice a day, five times or more if we are feeling swept away by our pain and confusion. This is part of what the Body of Christ is about. We have to let others in to our pain.
      Sometimes there is no quick fix to our pain or trouble. Some trouble we have gotten ourselves into over time and it will take time to walk out from it, but don’t give up. Do pray. Do read God’s Word. And when you are feeling swept away by doubt, pain or confusion, call on someone to pray for you and speak God’s truth to your heart.
      The promise is that pain has an expiration date. It will not last eternally, but the love of God will, and the joy of His presence.
      Psalm 23 tells us that “surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. Know that even in your darkest days, you are being pursued by the mercy and goodness of God.
      My prayers go out to you today.
      Much Love,

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