When we read the stories about the heroes of faith, it is easy to forget the uncertainty they experienced in the midst of their stories. When he started building the ark, Noah had never experienced a flood. When David was fleeing from Saul, David did not know if he would survive that day. When Joseph was sitting in prison, he did not know that within two years he would be second in command to Pharaoh. We know how each of these stories ends, so we can be oblivious to the emotions that these heroes experienced in the midst of their trials.
The recent resignation of a coworker to a competitor has caused me to be in some difficult situations over the last few weeks. I have taken over some of his former clients not knowing what he has said about my company or about his replacement (me). On top of the people challenges, there are technical challenges of quickly learning the clients’ systems so that I can be effective as a consultant.
As a result, I found myself feeling rather overwhelmed on a recent drive home. I was challenged by a fear of failure combined with self pity with a little bit of anger thrown in.
One of the Christian platitudes that I find most irritating is “God will not give you more than you can handle.” Try telling that to Gideon and the 300 men with him as they moved toward a battle with the entire Midian army. Try telling that to Job who, in addition to experiencing the loss of health, wealth and family, had to endure the empty and sometimes harsh words of his so-called friends. Both Gideon and Job had more than they could handle and God was behind it all.
No-where in Scripture have I found any support for the idea that God will not give me more than I can handle.
But as I drove home on that commute, I was reminded of two things which provided the necessary perspective to begin moving away from my emotional funk.
First, I was reminded that God was not taken by surprise in anything that has happened to me. These changes did not disrupt God’s plan for my life.
The second thing that came to mind is the promise in Philippians 1:6 that God will complete the work that he has begin in me. The circumstances in which I find myself will, if nothing else, reveal the parts of me that remain in need of transformation. God uses my circumstances as a tool to shape me into the person he intends me to be. How will I overcome my inappropriate fear, self pity and selfish anger if they are not exposed through these circumstances?
This knowledge does not make the circumstances any easier. But this knowledge is like a life vest that will keep me afloat until I get back to shore.