Her eyes pooled with tears as she handed me her phone. They spilled over her lashes as I read the text, "Just remember, God won't give you more than you can handle."
My heart broke for her as I tried to find something to say that would ease this fresh pain layered over the old. The heart behind the message was good, the timing not so much. My answer? We went to find His Truth, together, the only place that offers it, the Bible.
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?
I love that we have social media to reach out and encourage each other. But sometimes, we share some clichés that keep us from being authentic. It is so easy to throw out a platitude and think we have done our part. But our message should be more than pieces and parts of scripture put together to fit a narrative.
God won't give us more than we can handle.
This one is the hardest for me to understand. When we say this, we are saying God thinks some parents can handle the death of a child. That He is ok with a single mother losing her low-paying job and wondering if she can feed her kids or if they will have a place to stay. Can anyone who has cancer handle it?
Of course not! Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God won't give us more than we can handle, but Jesus said that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) He also promised us help through the troubles of this world. (John 16:33)
Our message should be more than pieces and parts of scripture put together to fit a narrative.
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, they may hear God is causing 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 us 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 despite God's will, not because of it.
We live in a world that expects immediate results; information, answers, food, miracles. Sound bites have become the cultural norm in our 2-minute mindset. And they aren't all bad; words can encourage and inspire. We may hear them without scrutiny when we say them to the faithful because they are often true. But are they enough? When we tell them at the wrong time, they can cause a tsunami of emotional damage.
Sometimes we choose those passages that fit our narrative of successful living, happy relationships, and easy words of encouragement. Unfortunately, we are becoming biblically anemic, offering easy, acceptable convenience rather than God's Truth that is sometimes difficult and risks worldly condemnation.
Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26
Have we told the new believer about taking up her cross? Are we authentic if we don't talk about the cost of receiving His grace? Are we fulfilling God's purpose if we don't talk about being new in Jesus means setting aside things of this world? And it's all well worth it, because of the promise of what is coming. We weren't made for this world; God intended us for the perfection of the Garden of Eden, where we walked with Him in perfect peace. That is what we are waiting for again.
What happens to this new believer when her house is flooded, her child gets ill, or her husband leaves her. What does she have to fall back on? If we don't tell her the whole story, the real goal, she may believe that difficult seasons were over when she made her commitment to Jesus. Are we there to show her God's audacious, relentless love when the trials come? Because they will. Is she able to rest in the power of the cross regardless of her circumstances? She can only do that when we give her the necessary tools.
We are becoming biblically anemic, offering easy, acceptable convenience rather than God's truth that is sometimes difficult.
In his book, the Way of the Master, Ray Comfort uses the analogy of the cure for cancer for evangelism. If you had the treatment for cancer and someone you loved got cancer, you would run to share that cure with them without hesitation. So likewise, if we know the way to God's heart and an eternity with Him, we need to run to everyone we know and share Jesus, the whole story. All 66 books of it. The alternative is devastating.
"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 tribe knows 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, following Jesus, and the audacious, relentless love of God. These are the glue that holds us all together! I challenge you to be the person God has called you to be, delighting in His Word, His grace, and His love for you. Then go out and share it with great joy! All of it.