It’s your first time inside this funeral home. It’s colder than you expected. You’ve driven by it thousands of times, never giving a second thought to the pain represented by each car in the parking lot. But now it’s you. Now you’re the one whose car is parked outside of the funeral home. You are the one standing inside while friends, relatives and strangers come by to tell you that they are sorry for your loss. You wish you could just go home and everything could go back to normal, the way it was three days ago.
People want you to know that they care. Some of their words are very encouraging. Some aren’t.
Like the guy who walks up to you, casually points over to the casket, and smugly proclaims, “God just needed another flower in his garden.”
You want to punch him. But you think better of it. So you just smile, say something polite and nod along with him as he continues to ramble. That’s when he tells you this.
“You know, God will never give you more than you can handle.”
Instead of punching him, you secretly analyze his statement, all the while appearing to listen to the other obtuse phrases coming out of his mouth. Is he right? Is it true that God would never give you more than you could handle?
You think about Scripture.
You think about Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers and eventually ended up in jail on false charges.
You think about Jehoshaphat who was doing his best to lead his nation, Judah, but still found himself in a bad way when enemy nations started moving in to attack.
You think about Paul who had something called a thorn in the flesh. You don’t know what that is but you know it wasn’t good because Paul repeatedly asked God to take it away.
And then you think back on your own life.
You begin with the divorce that destroyed your seemingly perfect family the summer before you went away to college.
And then the events that brought you here today. Standing in a funeral home. Listening to a stranger theorize about life and death.
You go back to your original question. Does God ever give us more than we can handle? Does he ever allow too much weight to fall on us?
He did to Joseph. Joseph wasn’t getting out of the pit his brothers threw him into on his own.
He did to Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat’s army didn’t stand a chance against their invaders.
And he did to Paul. In the form of an angry mob, a snakebite, a shipwreck and a thorn in the flesh.
He did to you too.
You didn’t know how to handle your parent’s divorce. And today? Today you feel crushed. Even your next breath seems impossible.
But then you remember what God was doing through Joseph.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20 (ESV)
And Jehoshaphat. You remember what his dire situation led him to pray.
“O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12 (ESV)
That thorn in Paul’s flesh comes to mind too. So you remember the reason why he quit asking God to take it away.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
Later that night you lie in bed, unable to sleep. The house is too quiet. You dread tomorrow morning’s funeral and the sight of that casket.
Your eyes fill with tears. A prayer comes to your lips.
“Father, these circumstances you have sent my way are more than I can handle. You have given me too much weight. I am too weak for this. But thank you. Thank you for being strong where I am weak. Thank you for sending me more than I can handle to remind me of how badly I need you. I don’t know what to do but my eyes are on you.”
You drift off to sleep. By the time you finally wake up, it’s time to go.
You walk into the church sanctuary and there it is. The casket.
As you walk closer, you try to be strong. But you just can’t. It’s then that you remember that you don’t have to be strong. Jesus’ strength is enough for you. Just like it was for Paul.
You continue to cry.
But as the tears pour from your eyes, a peace grows in your heart.
On your way back to your seat you think about what that man told you yesterday at the funeral home.
“God will never give you more than you can handle.”
As the organist plays, you thank God that that man was wrong.
God really did give you more than you can handle. But in doing that he showed you that in Jesus you have more than you could possibly ever need. You have been given a weight that is impossible to carry. You have also been given a Savior to carry it for you.
You are weak.
He is strong.
The peace in your heart grows as you remember that sometimes God’s most valuable messages come wrapped in packages too heavy for you to handle. And it is under that weight that you gain a greater understanding of who God is and just how much he loves you.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV)
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. Job 42:5 (ESV)