More than we can handle
I recently read a blog post about an oft misused verse from 1 Cortinthians, and I realized that I myself have not understood this verse correctly and have repeated this misunderstanding to those who are suffering, I’m sad to say.
The platitude goes like this: someone starts telling you about how his or her life is crumbling around them. A marriage may be so full of problems and confusion that neither husband nor wife can see a way to resolve their differences. A child may be struggling with drug use or is getting in trouble with the police. Or mortgage payments can barely be made, and the family feels frayed financially.
And then comes the platitude: “Well,” says some well-meaning but clueless friend, “God won’t give you more than you can handle. Everything will be okay.”
We see from the Bible and the sufferings of the disciples that everything was most certainly not okay. Paul describes being beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked. He was in danger in the city, in the country, and everywhere in between. He went without sleep. He went without food. He was cold and naked and weak (2 Cor. 11:26).
He goes on in chapter 12 to discuss a “thorn,” some unnamed malady or difficulty which kept him from experiencing a fulfilled and satisfied life. He pleaded with the Lord to remove it. It probably felt like more than Paul could handle. And yet, God did not take it away. Instead, Paul learned from God that His “grace is sufficient” and His “power is made perfect in weakness.”
The reason why people often bring up this “God won’t give you more than you can handle” saying is that it seems to come from Scripture. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear….” And yet, the actual context of this verse is temptation, not suffering.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the areas in my life that I want to improve. It seems like I’ve got three major areas that are often out of balance. One is my work. Right now, I do not have enough time or creative space to be writing much. I’m trying to remedy that, but it’s a struggle to carve out time for this.
Another area is my health. I’m on a downward and hopeful trajectory in terms of weight loss. This is good, but my slow progress is making me nervous about the long-term stability in this area.
Another area is finances. We will soon have a college student in our home whose educational expenses, while reasonable compared to private schools, will still seem overwhelming at times.
Why is it that I can’t have all three “trouble” areas under control and in balance at the same time?
If my life were totally in my control, and in balance just the way I want it, why would I need God’s help? If I have everything “handled,” I’d be a-okay on my own.
But I’m not. I’m far from okay. I’m weak, I’m anxiety-ridden, I’m cranky, I’m rude. I worry about the future. I stress about the past. I can’t let go of trying to control my present.
This is when God’s strength is made perfect–when I admit I’m weak, and I need someone “higher than I” to help me. And this is the great comfort in knowing about Paul’s suffering. He suffered far more than I ever will. But still, I am weak, just as Paul was. And I need my heavenly Father’s care just as he did.
God may give me more than I can handle at times. But that’s okay. Because I have a heavenly Father whose “weakness is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25). He’s with me through my struggles. And that’s a comforting thought.
This is a good, basic pumpkin bread recipe (p. 70-71). I modified it to lighten it up. It calls for 3 cups of sugar. I used one, plus two of Splenda. It calls for 1 c. of salad oil. I used applesauce instead. For the 3 1/2 c. flour, I used 2 cups regular flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, and 1/2 cup ground flax seed. Everything else was the same, and you know what? I don’t miss the extra fat, sugar, or white flour at all. Instead of making bread, I made 4 mini loaves and 12 muffins. It’s a pretty big recipe, so you can definitely halve it if you don’t want the extra. But I’m planning on giving most of this away as my boys won’t really care, and I don’t need the extra calories.
I love having this sort of thing in the freezer to give away at a moment’s notice. Because all the time people are doing nice things for me, and I want to say thank you with food. 🙂
You just can’t go wrong with the pumpkin/cinnamon/nutmeg flavor. Last Thanksgiving I tried two types of pie–one regular and one totally diet-friendly. The flavors of the pumpkin with the spices makes it delicious–whether or not a bunch of sugar is added.
Here’s the batter, looking pumpkiny and yummy.
Into the oven they go. Do you see my broken-in-half Pampered Chef mini-loaf pan in the back? I broke it a few years ago while washing it, and you know what? I kind of like it better broken–much easier to maneuver.
Even with the substitutions, they puffed up nicely. Last week, when I made the double cranberry muffins, they were flatter and didn’t respond as well to the substitution of flax seed for flour. But these pumpkin muffins were more forgiving and flexible.
There are two pumpkin bread recipes in the cookbook, one from Donna H. which I made in February, and this one from Charlene G. Charlene’s is the basic recipe, and Donna’s makes some healthy substitutions, including plain yogurt in place of much of the oil. Both are fantastic. Thank you, ladies!