God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle?

Since becoming a Christian, I’ve heard the phrase “God won’t give you more than you can handle” on numerous occasions. Heck, I’ve heard it so often that I accepted it as Biblical truth and have used the phrase once or twice to encourage myself or another Christian. After all, at first glance it sounds good, feels good, and appears like it could be Scriptural truth. So what’s the problem? The phrase is simply not found anywhere in the Bible.

I am embarrassed to admit this was a recent discovery of mine. After a recent conversation in which the phrase popped up yet again, I felt prompted to research it further. As I searched for the Bible verse(s) this phrase might be quoted from, I could not find any. The most similarly worded verse I found was 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Morphing this verse into “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is clearly a gross misinterpretation.

In truth, one cannot read the Bible without observing that many of the Biblical characters we admire were given far more than they could “handle.” Moses, Jonah, Jeremiah, Job, Esther, Paul, Peter, etc. etc. Let’s also not forget the millions of martyrs in the history of the Church…I’m assuming death was probably more than what they considered they could handle. The clear truth from the myriad examples found in the Bible is that we are often given more than we can handle in our own power.

Not only is this expression absent from Scripture but it is an affront to the truth that God has revealed in His Word. A situation I can “handle” is one in which my own power and abilities are sufficient. However, the whole point of the Gospel is that because we are sinful, we are unable to handle the most important issue of our lives – our separation from God. This is why we need the work of Christ on the cross…between sin’s destruction and Satan’s scheming, we all find ourselves in a situation that is far more than we can handle. In fact, in the Gospel of John, Jesus himself said “apart from me you can do nothing.”

Moreover, aside from simply being untrue (and an offense to those who are dealing with a situation that is more than they can handle), an additional problem with saying “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is that it takes the emphasis off of God and puts it on us. In reality, God repeatedly allows us to find ourselves in difficult situations to foster a healthy dependence upon Him. Ultimately, it is God himself who “handles” a situation, and thus demonstrates He is the one in control – not us. The truth is we are in constant, daily need of God’s intervention, and until we learn that lesson, we will find our hot-headed, independent, prideful selves back in our anxiety-ridden delusion that we are in control of our lives.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

So let’s retire this saying and replace it with this: Yes, God most definitely will allow you to experience situations that are more than you feel you can handle, but God can handle it. As we trust Him, He will be faithful to provide and though our lives may not transpire as we hoped, we can take comfort in the knowledge that His will for our lives is ultimately what is best and will bring Him the most glory…and that is all that matters.

10 Ways Pregnancy Crushed My Dignity: Part 5 – Incontinence

If you haven’t yet read the intro to this series, you should do so before reading on for some context.

As almost any pregnant lady can confirm, you pee absurdly often when you are pregnant. Before I became pregnant, I prided myself on my ability to hold my bladder for ridiculously long periods of time (which, by the way, I can no longer do after giving birth to a baby). However, while pregnant (and particularly near the end), I couldn’t go more than 1-1.5 hours without making a trip to see my friend Loo (even during my so-called “sleeping” hours). This is entirely normal and I know every pregnant woman reading this post right now is sighing and nodding in agreement (and probably just took a bathroom break before continuing on to the second paragraph).

Not only do you have to pee frequently while pregnant, you also lose some bladder control as well. Here’s how this plays out: You laugh…there goes a few drops of pee. You cough…there goes a few drops of pee. You sneeze…there goes a few drops of pee. You stand up…there goes a few drops of pee. You just hope all four don’t happen in succession…there is a reason people joke about pregnant women using Depends. Again, an entirely normal and common experience shared by most pregnant women.

The reality of frequent urination and loss of bladder control were mere annoyances for most my pregnancy, until I got tag teamed. What do you get when you combine a small bladder, incontinence, and a dash (or five) of nausea? Let me tell you:

When I was five months pregnant, I decided to visit a few friends from college who lived 45 minutes away. Apparently I had already forgotten all about my previous long distance visit to my mom, and the result of that. I wasn’t feeling well that day as usual, but was becoming so frustrated with the reality of being home bound that I was determined to get out and go do something. Sean knew I wasn’t feeling well, so he insisted on driving me. I did ok on the drive there, but as Sean picked me up on our way back home, I knew it would not be a good trip. Within the first five minutes, I was an 11 on my nausea scale. (The scale ranges from 1-5). However, I didn’t want to pull over because it was late, I was tired, and I just wanted to get home (sound familiar??) Fortunately, with zero talking and 100% concentration, we made it home without having a repeat barf-all-over-the-car situation.

Sean pulled into our carport, and I immediately jumped out before the car had even stopped and began walking briskly towards our apartment to meet up with my bestie Loo. About halfway there, it became painfully clear I had absolutely no chance of making it. Mid-stride, up came my dinner, and with impeccable aim splashed all over my pants and shoes. Now if this is where the story ended, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But oh no, little grapefruit-sized Caleb had decided to take it up a notch this time. As my body cruelly purged my entire dinner from earlier that night, it forcefully pushed something else out as well – an entire full bladder of urine. No, none of this “few drops” business…the whole topped off tank. So there I was, standing in our apartment complex’s carport drenched in my own vomit and urine. Head hung in defeat, I stared down at the damage and paused for several moments. I remember slowly shaking my head and thinking: “wow. just…wow. Here I am a full-blown adult, standing on a public street, drenched in my worst…A-mazing. I really don’t think it can get much better than this.” At that point, Sean had caught up to me after finishing parking the car, and I slowly turned to him and profoundly announced in my best Forest Gump voice (not sure why) – “Sean…I peed my pants.” To which he replied: “yes…I can see that.” I turned back around towards our apartment, feet turned out, slightly squatting, and snickered as I waddled slowly the rest of the way home.

I sincerely wish I could tell you that this incident was the absolute pinnacle of my worst dignity-crushing pregnancy experiences, but alas (huge sigh), it is not.

The other 9 ways pregnancy crushed my dignity:

Part 1 – Constipation
Parts 2 & 3 – Appetite and Weight Gain
Part 4 – Mourning Sickness
Part 6 – Crazy Hormones
Parts 7, 8, & 9 – Pain, Pain, Pain
Part 10, the Pinnacle – Diarrhomit

Also, read about Caleb’s birth:

Caleb’s Birth Story: Rated PG-13 for Language, Nudity, and Drugs 🙂

And here’s the adventures we had after Caleb’s birth:

Caleb’s Afterbirth – the Hospital (Part 1)
Caleb’s Afterbirth – the Neighbs (Part 2)
Caleb’s Afterbirth – Breastfeeding Blues (Part 3)

Caleb’s Afterbirth – Body Slammed (Part 4)
Caleb’s Afterbirth – Am I an Incompetent Parent (Part 5)

72% and 5 Things We’ve Learned While Raising Support

Since many of you reading this are supporters of our ministry, I am sure you are interested to hear about our progress towards our goal of getting onto campus! We are currently at 72% of our monthly goal…SO close to 3/4 of the way there!!! We are definitely in the tail-end of support raising and are praying and hoping to be finished with our financial support by the summer. Right now our biggest obstacle to finishing is finding additional people to talk to about our ministry.

Many lessons have been learned by us in the process of raising support and here are 5 highlights:

1. God is in control and joining staff with Campus Crusade is clearly what He has called us to. I wish I had the space to tell all the specific stories, but let’s just say we’ve come to expect the unexpected. Although we’ve definitely put in our share of hard work, it is clear that it is God who is ultimately working in people’s hearts to join our ministry team. Every time we’ve been frustrated or discouraged, God does something really cool that really encourages us and lifts our spirits, confirming that we are right where we’re supposed to be. Also the fact that He has raised our support much faster than expected is testimony to His call on our lives.

2. Raising support is like sharing the Gospel. You have to take initiative, confront fears, get comfortable with the uncomfortable, and be willing to constantly meet new people. We once heard it said that “if you can’t ask people to support you financially, how can you ask people to completely surrender their lives to God?” This has certainly been training grounds for where we will go next and is pushing our limits of what comes to us naturally.

3. We took many aspects of “normal” jobs for granted. Where do I even begin on this one? Having steady (better) paychecks, only working 40-50 hours a week, working a set schedule each day, minimal travel, occasional periods of psychological rest…and the list goes on. Honestly, leaving these things behind was one of our biggest obstacles to choosing  vocational ministry. The “security” and luxuries we had before, we no longer have.

4. God requires everything…yes, everything. We are learning to let go of the “securities” and comforts I talked about in #3. Nothing can be put as a greater priority than God…when you are stripped of the things you were so heavily relying on, you become painfully aware of the ways you were not depending on God. Halfway into support raising, I did an honest evaluation on my level of trust in God…and found it to be about a 3 on a scale of 1-10. That’s because we had been so “self-sufficient” and independent that I didn’t feel like I desperately needed Him. That’s scary…but I think it’s been changing (maybe slowly…but surely). Mark Gauthier once said that “faith is predicated on insecurity. You should live your life so that if God doesn’t pull through for you – you’re toast!”

5. Happiness is not the same as joy. Happiness is fleeting and depends on your circumstances, but joy is much deeper and transcends circumstances. I think it’s safe to say that support raising does not make us happy. It’s not fun, enjoyable, or easy. Our current circumstances (apart from support raising itself) are less than ideal as well…traveling often, living as a married couple in your parents home, living far away from most of our friends…you get the picture. However, I think it’s also safe to say that we have experienced more joy in the last 9 months than ever before. We’ve learned so much about ourselves and the authentic life (of love and sacrifice) that God calls all Christians to live – there’s no such thing as a “mediocre Christian life”…it’s an oxymoron. We’ve been so close to God during this time and have experienced Him and the awesomeness of being sure we are in His will. Despite the frustrations of support raising and the things we gave up in #3, I don’t think we’d give up this experience for anything.We didn’t choose to do vocational ministry because we lacked other options or because it was going to be an easy path…far, FAR from it. We chose it because we know that God radically transforms lives (I am a testimony to that) and it is so amazing to experience and be a part of that.

We are learning what Paul said in Philippians 3:7-11 – “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”