I did a thing today.
I watched the movie Breakthrough.
I cried. Not just a little, like ugly cried. I sat there imagining how I would feel if the same thing happened to my child. Would I cry out to God? Would I stand in faith to believe that my child would walk out okay? Would I scream in anger at all the people around me who meant well? Would I believe the doctor’s report? Or would I push forward to trust that God was about to perform a miracle?
It got me to thinking about this idea that’s been rolling around in my head and in my heart for some time now. I hear all too often from well-meaning people that “God never gives you more than you can handle”.
I’ve experienced tremendous loss in my life. I’ve experienced anguish and heartache at many different levels. To the point that not only did I want to die, I wanted to take my own life. I say this in all seriousness, that I am not here today because I could handle any of it. I am here because God picked me up and bore the pain on my behalf. I am here because God reminded me that I didn’t have to handle it. He would do it for me. And He did.
Friends, I know you’ve experienced loss. Maybe you’re grieving the loss of a parent. Maybe you’re grieving the loss of a child and the tiniest thing cripples you. Maybe your spouse passed on and you find yourself waiting for them to walk through the door at the end of the day. Maybe you’re reeling from your fifth miscarriage and all you feel is emptiness. Maybe you’ve lost your job and the prospects seem hopeless.
I’m going to tell you something unpopular. It’s something that goes against the memes and the comforting platitudes. It’s something I hope will encourage you in your moments of deepest pain and anguish.
The scripture that most people pull the idea that “God never gives us more than we can handle” is from 1 Corinthians 10:13. And what it really says is: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” The scripture in its context is teaching us that when we are tempted, God always gives us a way out. This is a great scripture and when taken in context can enrich our lives and remind us that there’s always a way out of the temptations we face. We can go home instead of to the bar. WE can buy fruit instead or cupcakes. We can leave the cigarettes at the store.
But when it comes to challenges in life and difficulties and heartache that are outside of our control, we are allowed to walk through it. I don’t know why. But we are. God doesn’t cause the hurt but God allows us to go through trials and pain that are unimaginable. And sometimes that pain is too much to bear. We aren’t meant to bear it alone. We are meant to turn to God and seek out help when we need it.
The book of Job in the bible is one of the hardest to read. It’s about a Godly man who has everything. He has an amazing family, wealth and riches, and God allows him to go through unimaginable pain. He loses everything. His family. His wealth. Everything.
Think about it for a minute if in one day everything you loved and worked hard for was gone.
Just the thought takes my breath away.
But even in the midst of it, Job’s response is
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.Job 1:21
Oh, that I would be a woman that could do that in the midst of loss. That I could bless the name of God.
My response after my second miscarriage was not like that at all. My response was to go into a dark and hopeless place. I imagined harming myself. I imagined what life would look like for my husband and oldest child if I were gone. I needed help. I was suffering what I believe was post-partum depression, compounded with the loss of my child through miscarriage. I needed help, but I didn’t know I could ask.
I thought that I should be able to handle this. I was a Christian for goodness sake. I should be able to walk through this issue with a smile on my face, but the reality was that I was dying inside, and I desperately needed someone to help me.
I needed God to help me.
I needed the community around me to validate my sense of loss. I needed the medical professionals to tell me that post-partum depression is real, and even affects moms after a miscarriage.
It was more than I could handle.
Fighting with insurance companies to cover the ER visit and resulting surgery was overwhelming. Parenting was hard. Being a wife was hard. Going anywhere if it weren’t church or home didn’t happen. That year we even stayed home for Thanksgiving and ate pie and stew because we just didn’t want to be around anyone. We were hurting.
It was so much more than we could handle.
I prayed and begged God to resurrect the child in my womb when I found out she was dead inside. I knew that the God who resurrected Lazarus from the dead, the God who resurrected Jesus from the dead could resurrect the child in my womb. I don’t know why He didn’t. I don’t know why He allowed me to experience that loss again. But I do know that I can share a message of hope that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. I do know that I can still say without a shadow of a doubt that the Bible is true when it says:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Romans 8:28
What happened was not good. It was death. The enemy, Satan is the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus comes to give life and life eternally. But God works together all things (good and bad) for good when we love Him.
There will be things that come in your life that are more than you can handle. Reach out. If you’re suffering after a miscarriage, please, please, please tell someone how depressed you are. Tell a trusted friend, tell your doctor, tell your mentor. Hormones drop suddenly after a miscarriage, and what you’re experiencing is not just in your mind and heart, it may be physiological as well.
If you’re suffering after any loss, ask someone for help. Stop pretending you’re okay. We can absolutely turn to God in these times and He is always enough, but it also helps to reach out to our community of friends and family so they can lift you up in prayer and encourage you as well.
Through all my heartache, God did something amazing. He worked out a miracle beyond anything I could’ve imagined. My oldest son started asking for a “sister-baby” right before he turned 3. I cried on the inside because I genuinely thought he was it. I thought I was going to have only one child and that my womb was more a place of death than of life. But I told him to pray. I told him it might take a really long time, but to just keep praying.
I wasn’t praying much in that season. I was heart-hearted and still reeling from the loss. But I didn’t want that to keep my son from asking God for things. That summer, we got pregnant with our daughter. The prayers of my son and the birth of my daughter tore down the walls of unbelief I had built up in my heart. It reminded me of the goodness of God. My daughter is a light. She is a delight and a constant reminder to me that God gives us beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
In my experience and understanding of scripture,
God allows us to go through things we can’t handle, to remind us that He can.Kristi Crosson
He allows us to experience pain to help us have empathy. He allows us to experience loss so we can get through it with His help. Then we can later walk alongside someone else who is experiencing a similar loss. We can learn the depths of His love and compassion toward us as He brings us out of the darkness and into His light. As He heals our deepest wounds. And as He creates something new from what was once dead. He is a resurrector.
What’s dead in your heart? What has you overwhelmed and crying until you can’t breathe? God is big enough. Reach out. Ask for help.