Going out on a limb


Today Johanna and I were chatting and she repeated a line that I’ve heard all my life, “God only gives us what we can handle.”   She’d read it on a Scoliosis ‘community’ website.  That line was said to me many times since Bernadette got sick.  But today, hearing it again in the context Johanna repeated it, my first thought was: then what’s the point?  Sounds a bit like a cruel God to throw adversity at us but only what we can handle.  So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I don’t necessarily believe that to be true any more because it makes God sound like someone who doles out troubles just for the fun of it.  That saying suggests He took Bernadette from us because He thought we could handle it?  Seriously!

If we truly believe that what we’re going through comes from God, since we say ‘God only gives ….’ then I’m thinking that God gives us more than we can handle  – to help us grow.  The catch is, we then have a choice to make, either turn to Him for help to be able to grow through the experience, or not turn to Him for help and thereby rely on ourselves, hence becoming bitter and resentful and blaming God for our adversity.  Then when we say, “only what we can handle” I’m suspecting that it means, He’s sure we can handle turning to Him for help.  In that way it builds up our relationship with God, it doesn’t tear it down, and it doesn’t leave us feeling punished and stranded.   So many people decide that they can’t handle the adversity and they blame God for giving them more than they could handle and they’d be right, He did, but He didn’t give it without His grace.   That is if He gives the adversity to us in the first place.

That’s what I’d like to come to terms with.  I started reading Peter Kreeft’s book “Making Sense Out of Suffering” and I’m hoping it will shed some light on my questions, especially the one, “Is this really God’s will?” and “Why?”  I’m not saying he will answer my questions, but he might offer some valuable insights that I can ponder on and maybe one day bring to prayer.  At the very least, it might alleviate some fear so I can seriously face the issue with an open mind and heart.  Right now I feel I’ve put a wall around my heart to protect it from further pain and suffering.

I had someone suggest today that I need to remember how much God loves me too, not just Bernadette.  It’s amazing how that very though brought instant tears – and not tears of joy but tears of doubt and hurt and a sense of betrayal.

It reminded me of sitting here the other day watching Zoe play. She had something she shouldn’t have and Catherine or Johanna switched it out with something she could play with and Zoe took it all in stride and continued to play happily.  I just sat there thinking:  God, you took Bernadette away and there is absolutely nothing You can switch it out with that will satisfy, don’t You understand that!  It wasn’t until later that the answer hit me like a ton of bricks.  The only thing that is big enough and amazing enough to replace the happiness of Bernadette is God Himself.   The problem is, unlike Zoe’s instant satisfaction, God seems so far away right now and I’m far too afraid to ask Him for anything in case His answer is like it was last time, “No.”



By The Kurz’s
Great topic Patti! I was just having the same conversation about “handling as much as we can bear” last week and I am of the exact same mind! “Only as much as we can handle, with God’s help”.
I can see how the fear of another “no” from God would be hard to handle at this time. Hopefully in time your pain will ease and you will be more willing to test your uncomfort zones…


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