A.K.A., When God gives you more than you can handle.
One Thanksgiving in the season of separation and divorce, I was attempting to make a pumpkin pie. Now, if you’ve ever gone through a difficult season, you know you’re not always at the top of your game. And, if you’ve ever made a pumpkin pie, you know that you’re supposed to whisk it by hand, not using a heavy duty KitchenAid mixer. The batter is much too thin to require such a powerful machine.
What was I thinking?
So, I added all those pumpkin pie ingredients to the mixing bowl and fastened it to the mixer, then turned it on. Suddenly there was pumpkin pie mix splattered all over my kitchen – the walls, the cabinets, even the ceiling. No way was that mess ever going to reassemble into a pumpkin pie.
Going through a divorce is like an emotional explosion that leaves pieces of your heart splattered all over the wall. Even though you do your best to clean up the mess, life is never going to look the same. In addition to the emotional explosion, you experience internal implosion as the pain threatens to engulf and crush you.
During this time, the enemy is at work feeding you lies.
Lies that cause us to doubt the goodness of God. Lies about his character, his love, his forgiveness, and his very presence (see previous posts).
Lies in the form of well-meant clichés like “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”
PSA: Divorce is more than we can handle.
So are a lot of other terrible situations. That cliché is based on a reading of 1 Corinthians 10:13 that confuses circumstances with the temptation we face in the midst of them. There’s a difference. The apostle Paul clearly says in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 that we sometimes experience affliction and distress beyond our ability to endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is talking about the testing and temptation we face in the midst of devastating circumstances and how we respond to it. There is a righteous way through every trial in the way we respond to others and the way we respond to God:
- Whether we will lash out in hate or respond in love.
- Whether we will allow bitterness to take root or forgive.
- Whether we will run TO God or turn our backs on Him.
- Whether we will abandon our faith or reexamine the object of our faith and what or whom our faith is in.
- Whether we will try to deal with things on our own or rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in us.
None of the above are humanly possible. Our natural response is to want to hurt those who have hurt us. It doesn’t help when we are reminded of another cliché from Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Is it fair to call this a cliché? It’s a true statement, but sometimes it is used to imply that I should be able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get over my difficulties. It doesn’t work that way.
Let’s take a closer look at that verse. The phrase “can do” means to have power and strength. The word “through” is actually the Greek word “en” which has the idea of being in something or Someone so you are resting in that something or Someone. I’m not a Greek scholar, but here’s my take on it:
I receive strength and power from Jesus when I rest in him.
I may not be able to change my circumstances. I don’t always respond graciously when going through a difficult trial. But I can practice Paul’s secret of being content in every situation…and that secret is to rest in Jesus.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
What burdens do you need to entrust to Jesus to carry for you? Where do you need to experience His presence and power in your life this week? Where do you need to experience His rest? He freely gives – all we have to do is be willing to receive.
Author’s note: This is part of a series recapping a recent presentation on the effects of divorce.