I was perusing Pinterest one evening last fall, my mind was in a dark fog and I found it hard to concentrate on much of anything. Pinterest seemed like a good diversion. Then I saw the meme, God doesn't give you more than you can handle. This platitude only heightened my anxiety and added to my depression. What was wrong with me, I am a woman of faith, why couldn't I handle this place that I was drowning in.
Christian clichés. They are everywhere. Just go to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or a home décor store. You will find easy platitudes to share. But are they always authentic? Are they helpful?
The best kind of girlfriends are real, creating an easy authenticity that opens our hearts and souls to connect at the deepest level. I love that we have social media to reach out and encourage each other. But sometimes are we sharing some clichés that keep us from being authentic? Is it too easy to throw out a platitude and think we have done our part? Our message should be more than pieces and parts of scripture that fit a narrative.
God won’t give us more than we can handle.
I have always struggled with this particular cliché. Does God think some parents can handle the death of a child? Is He ok with a single mother losing her low paying job and wondering if she can feed her kids and worse if they will have a place to stay? Can anyone who has cancer handle it? Will a woman who is clinically depressed handle that dark and empty abyss on her own?
Of course not! When I was on my knees in the dark, weeping from the very depths of my soul, I knew this wasn’t something I could handle on my own. But I learned it was something God could handle.
Nowhere in the bible does it say that God won’t give us more than we can handle, but Jesus did say that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Everything happens for a reason.
When someone you know is hurting from a loss or a diagnosis and you tell them everything happens for a reason, you are basically saying that it is God’s will for them to suffer. Paul says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
While it’s not God’s perfect will for them to suffer, he can take even the most senseless suffering and use it for the good of those who love Him. This world is broken, and tragedy happens in spite of God’s will not because of it.
We live in a world that wants an easy Christian sentiment to share when someone is hurting. They don’t take long to memorize, they are convenient and idealistic. When we say them to the faithful they may be heard without scrutiny, and are often even true. But are they enough? And when we say them at wrong time or to the wrong person, they can cause a tsunami of emotional damage.
Sometimes we are choosing those passages that fit our narrative of successful living, happy relationships and easy words of encouragement. Those times we are becoming biblically anemic, offering easy, acceptable convenience rather than whole truths that are sometimes difficult and risk worldly condemnation. Then what happens when the new believer has never been told about taking up her cross? Her goals become more about living a good life this side of heaven, because that’s what we want to hear and can relate to. So she may just end up buying into the idea that God won’t give her more than she can handle.
Are we an authentic friend if we don’t talk about what the cost was for us to receive His grace? Are we fulfilling God’s purpose if we don’t have the conversation about being new in Jesus means setting aside things of this world?
“Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody. For I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many so that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:32-33
What happens to this new believer when her house is flooded, or her child gets ill, or her husband leaves her. What does she have to fall back on? Perhaps all the happy platitudes left her to believe that difficult seasons were over when she made her commitment to Jesus. Are we there to show her God’s audacious, relentless love? Is she able to rest in the power of the cross regardless of her circumstances?
In his book, the Way of the Master, Ray Comfort uses the analogy of the cure for cancer. If you had the cure for cancer and someone you loved got cancer, you would share the cure with them. Likewise if we know the way to God’s heart and an eternity with Him, don’t we want to share that with everyone we know? The alternative is devastating.
When we choose a life with Jesus we gain a wonderful freedom. And with that freedom comes responsibility.
“Everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. None of us should seek our own good, but the good of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:23
Friends, we need to make sure our girlfriends know these truths. They need to know we have their back when the challenges come, big or small. Let’s talk about the cost of the cross, the cost of following Jesus and the audacious, relentless love of God. These are the glue that hold us all together! I challenge you to be the girlfriend God has called you to be, delighting in His story, His grace and His love for you and sharing it with great joy!