Post by Daniel Forster
Whoever said “God won’t give you more than you can handle”?
When you’re taking care of little people, every day feels like more than you can handle.
You’re making progress on something in the kitchen, only to find that in the last 10 minutes of silence, a misguided helper has dusted all of the family room furniture with flour.
You worked hard to make a fun lunch for the children, but no one wants to eat it.
After getting kids in pajamas, brushing their teeth, reading stories, tucking them in, and then handling last-minute requests for drinks of water, trips to the bathroom (or anything else they can think of to delay bedtime), you’d much rather go to bed yourself than finish cleaning the kitchen.
The morning you finally get to sleep in is the morning that your toddlers decide to wake up and crawl all over your bed (and you).
I realize these “hardships” are pretty mild, compared to what some of my friends face, but this is life at our house right now. I know I’m a weenie if I complain about this stuff while other parents are doing all this alone as a single parent, or adding homeschooling to the mix, or maybe giving up on home routines entirely to spend weeks in a hospital with a child struggling for his life.
Clearly, trials can come in many shapes and sizes. Some are harder than others. But they all take their toll, wearing us down and tempting us to be discouraged (or to at least lock ourselves in the bathroom for five minutes of peace and quiet).
Does God give us more than we can handle?
Yes, He does.
Not only that, but He does it on purpose.
I think He wants us to see how much we need Him. Just like we can’t pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps in regards to our eternal salvation, neither can we just decide to be strong in our duties as parents (no matter what the self-help books say).
In every area of life, God wants us to see our weakness and our inability, not so we’ll be discouraged, but so we’ll admit our dependence on Him. We’re most likely to ask for His help when we’re at the end of our own rope.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, that’s evidence that God is drawing you towards Himself. Instead of trusting in your own strength or wisdom, He wants you to lean on Him. When we feel empty, tired, or in need of strength, we need to take refuge in our all-powerful God:
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” (Isa. 40:28)
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…” (Eph. 3:20a)
“Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God…” (Ps. 62:11)
“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. 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 Cor. 12:9-10)
“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isa. 26:4)
“I love you, O Lord, my strength.” (Ps. 18:1)
“Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jer. 32:17)
“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Matt. 19:26)
Clearly, God is the one who has it all together. By faith, we know there’s nothing HE can’t handle. So instead of looking inside ourselves and trying to drum up more inspiration or energy from inside, we need to ask God for strength from outside ourselves. He wants us to admit our weakness and depend completely on Him. Admitting our dependence on God is not weakness; it’s where we find real strength.
(I’ll be giving a workshop on “Parenting in the Strength God Supplies” this weekend at the Family Discipleship & Homeschooling Conference in Redmond, WA.)