We tend to love theological truths that can be packaged in small doses, statements that contain enough truth to sound good, and convictions that line up with everything else we believe about the world.
If the theological truth is really outstanding, it will fit on a bumper sticker.
Here's a case in point:
God will never give you more than you can handle.
Though I have seen this actual statement only rarely on a bumper sticker, I have heard the words a thousand times.
The statement sounds like it should be true. It seems to celebrate both God's grace in limiting what would come our way and, at the same time, the importance of our perseverance and fortitude. If the statement is true, it is my job simply to survive and press on. If the statement is true, it's clear that, because of God's grace, nothing would come my way that I won't be able to handle. And, according to the statement, God is the one who will provide the guarantee for that. It all sounds pretty good.
But like many of our theological views, this one turns out to be . . . completely false.
In fact, it turns out that God allows many things to come into our lives that we cannot handle.
But God will never give us more than God can handle.
To claim that we can deal with anything that comes our way dangerously elevates our sense of self-sufficiency. And while we are trained to believe that we can do just about anything in this life, the truth of the matter is . . . that we can't.
Some things are too hard for us. Some things are too painful for us. Some things are too difficult for us. Some things are too big for us.
But nothing is too hard, too painful, too difficult, too big for God! And, yes, God can and will give us strength and wisdom and grace to endure. But God will also do what only God can do.
In Scripture, we are instructed to cast our cares on God (1 Peter 5:7). We are instructed to be still so that we might know that God is God (Psalm 46:10). We are invited to come to Jesus to find rest for our weary souls (Matthew 11:28). We are told that God is able (Daniel 3:17). We are taught that God is powerful (Psalm 147:5). The repeated invitation of God's Word is for us to trust him and rely on him (Proverbs 3:5).
We are wise to pay attention to the focus of all of those good words (and so many others). The focus is on God and on what God can do.
It is wonderful to know that God can handle anything that happens. But that is a claim we cannot make for ourselves. In fact, there are plenty of things that come our way that we simply cannot handle. And we are not expected to!
It is quite possible that many of us are learning this lesson right about now. These are hard days. Some of us might even be realizing that we are not quite up to the task. But that's no reason for despair. We walk with a God who is able and aware and at work, a God who is never surprised, a God who can handle anything and everything that happens.
If you're planning on putting a bumper sticker on your car, at least choose one that tells the truth.
Life is filled with things that we cannot handle.
But handling impossible things is not our responsibility. That is something only God can do.