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Friday, September 27, 2013

Don't Just Hang in There...Hang on to God

This month has been overwhelming at times, full of emotional highs and lows of a great variety. I predicted it would be a kind of wild ride, and I was right. It is hard to try to form all of that into meaningful words for my readers, so I think I'll just stick to one lesson I have learned (or perhaps, have relearned) this month.

It started with a radio show I tuned in to on my drive home from a training session at my new job. The DJ was sharing how God does not require us to "tough it out" when things in our lives completely knock us off balance, but rather, God often emphasizes how He wants us to lean on Him in the hard times.

The DJ specifically spoke out against a common misquote of 1 Corinthians 4: 13. This verse says, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." He (and I) had heard this verse quoted without the mention of temptation, as a way of saying, "God won't give you anything you can't handle in this life, so if you are buckling under the load, toughen up."

It is Okay to Be Broken Before God
But anyone who has ever lost a loved one, or been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or discovered that their spouse was cheating on them, or maybe has just been suffering from extreme stress due to a crowded schedule, may have reason to say that this teaching is a bunch of malarkey.  You know what? It really is.

Sometimes things come along that we can't handle. It's not that we don't try to--no one likes to feel weak or broken--but sometimes, it is just beyond our ability to endure. Why is this such a novel thought? There is nothing in the Bible that says that only tough, superhuman people need apply for the position of Christ follower!  In fact, we serve a God who meets us in our weakness instead of only supporting us in our strengths (Psalm 73: 21-28), and who teaches us and comforts us to make us strong, rather than expecting instant perfection and nerves of steel (2 Corinthians 12:9; Proverbs 3: 5-6). It is okay with our God if we admit defeat and ask Him to intervene on our behalf or to give us peace and reassurance (1 Peter 5: 6Isaiah 37).  It is okay with Him if we hand our problem over to Him and let Him take over the worrying and the grief for awhile, while we try to get some sleep, or make dinner, or finish our homework (1 Peter 5: 7).

In fact, He volunteered for the job!  He volunteered because He loves us and feels compassion for us.

The bottom line is that we aren't supposed to "stick it out," because in doing that, we are holding ourselves up by our own strength, which is very limited, instead of leaning on God's infinite strength. God is actually the only one in control. He is the only one who can bring healing, the only one who can give guidance about the future, the only one who can bring peace, and the only one who can lead us out of the dire situations in which we find ourselves. It is folly to try to "be strong," but great wisdom to be broken before God, so that He can heal us.  In fact, He promised to heal us, so we should go to Him today.