God won’t give you more than you can bear? Really?

God won’t give you more than you can bear? Really?

In June myself and my friend Singer-Song Andy Flanagan went on a tour “When Faith Gets Shaken” on the back of my book. To be honest I didn’t really know what to expect as had never done anything like this before. I had that very uncomfortable feeling and was filled with conflicting thoughts and fears:

  • Will anyone come?
  • Will it be helpful to people?
  • I don’t want to come across as self–promoting yet at the same time I want people to read the book.
  • I don’t want to be referred to as a Christian Celebrity yet I want to do the tour

Argh argh what to do? I spend too much worrying what others think of me!

When I got over myself we went ahead. Each show followed a similar pattern. Andy and I tried to be as honest as possible about some of the challenges we have faced and how we found God in the midst of some very dark moments. What I was very taken aback by was the amount of people who came and spoke to me afterwards. There was so many stories of people who were battling far greater things than I had gone through: people on cancer journeys, mental health challenges, marriages that were breaking up, self-harming, young people with recent failed suicide attempts. Many people, like I previously had, thought the challenges they were facing were somehow their own fault. As I spoke about this in my talk every night without fail I would look out and see eyes filling up with tears. I reminded people its ok not to be ok and it’s in the place of vulnerability our healing begins. We need to be honest with God and as we are honest it allows others to be honest too.

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For me I knew that I felt betrayed by God and that it was something I had to deal with if I was going to be able to continue in relationship with him. It didn’t help that people would say, “God won’t give you more than you can bear.” This is a frequently quoted Christian phrase and one that can cause great heartache to those who are suffering. When you’ve reached the point where you don’t feel like you can take any more and someone tells you God wouldn’t give the burden to if you couldn’t handle it. It doesn’t make you feel loved. Quite the opposite; it leads to further anger as you can feel like God clearly doesn’t know you all that well as you already feel beyond your breaking point. It implies he’s doling out the pain but will stop when things get too much. The phrase is actually a misquotation of scripture. What the Bible says is that God won’t allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). Paul was trying to show the Corinthians that God was with them when they’re tempted and would help them find a way to resist. We need to let go of this strange image of God measuring out how much pain we can deal with. This only confuses our understanding of who He is and how He relates to us in our suffering.

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On tour Andy performed a song called “Fragile”. the backstory to this song is that he visited a wonderful fishing community in Chennai in November 2004. By 27 December the same year, three quarters of that community were wiped out by the tsunami that ravaged so much of that part of the world. This was his song of complaint. The words are beautiful and talk of God’s response to our suffering:

Why does life have to be this fragile?
Why is there a death so close to birth?
Why does life have to be this fragile?
Here on earth.

The same waves that brought you crashing in with joy,
The same waves left your universe destroyed.
The same sand that once warmed this white man’s toes,
It makes graves for your silent flesh and bone.
Smiles that I will not forget,
Joy that left me in your debt.

The same nets that once put food upon your plate,
They lie cast like the die that sealed your fate.
Reason here has lost its rhyme
And words feel empty at this time

The same man that the winds and waves obeyed,
Is the same man who was the first one to know pain.
This same man, He could keep control of everything,
But this same man knows more than me about suffering.
So calm this overwhelming force
‘Cos earth and heaven seem divorced

I am currently waiting for the date to come through for more limb reconstruction surgery. All the things that I wrote about in “When Faith Gets Shaken” I could be experiencing again. I would like to say I am full of faith and ready to meet the challenges head on but that wouldn’t be honest. It is all a very scary. We have recently moved house for several reasons. We are in a new environment and I am not sure how things are going to work out but I am determined to keep hanging onto God and others as we go through the storm.

Listen to Fragile here …..

Due to the amazing response to the last tour as long as the next operation goes ok we are hoping to tour again November 2016, we are currently taking bookings if you are interested in hosting us please contact lorna.dobbie@xlp.org.uk

If you would like a copy of When Faith Gets Shaken check out www.whenfaithgetsshaken.com Andy’s material can be found on www.andyflan.com