My wife recently enjoyed a great evening with other moms of children with disabilities.
Apparently the subject of “things people say to us” came up.
A popular one we have all heard is “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Generally in a group of parents with disabled children, people will either start to laugh uproariously at how ridiculous this is, or begin to weep at the burden of constantly not measuring up. Why? Because disability is hard and we know it is way more than we can handle.
This statement is particularly hard because it sounds scriptural, sort of:
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.
But even knowing this more accurate biblical context, how do you respond when somebody says that to you?
Here are a few things I try to keep in mind:
- They mean well. They don’t generally get it (otherwise they wouldn’t say it), but they really want to say something helpful. And they certainly don’t want to make things harder on us.
- They are usually REALLY happy not to have to deal with what you have been given. From that viewpoint, they do understand something of your situation; you probably wouldn’t have chosen to deal with it, either.
- They are exposing their understanding of who God is, and are opening a door for you to explain who God really is. God wants us to be entirely dependent on him (see Psalm 40 for how good this is!), because that is the kindest thing possible. We will not learn dependence on God if we can ‘handle’ it ourselves.
- God understands what he has given us ‘to handle’ and knows exactly how it will bring him glory and will work out for our good.
- I know that if I respond in anger (or worse, with violence), that I have just extended the amount of time I need to deal with this statement. And, yes, I have wanted to punch people in the nose who have said this to me. Just not lately, because God continues to teach me his character and how good he really is to me in light of my sin.
So, as I think about it, I am considering saying this the next time I hear that statement said to me:
Thank you for wanting to encourage me. In fact, God does give me more than I can handle, and I am grateful to experience his strength in my weakness.
What do you think of that? Would that make things better or worse?
And how do you respond when people say that to you? How would you like to respond?