The past three weeks have been the most difficult I have ever gone through. I know I am not alone. As trying as the last three weeks have been for me, I know some people who have dealt with far more for far longer. But that doesn t change the fact that this has been painful for me and my wife. In the face of all this, I can honestly say I feel no pressure to be the pastor and have the answer for this. Honestly, even as a pastor, I have no answer for this. My questions before God about the reality of what my family has experienced over the last three weeks are the exact same questions anyone would ask. Not only am I okay asking those questions, but I think there is something holy and sacred in being courageous enough to ask them.
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Don t be fooled, those questions are only to be asked by the courageous. It is easy to spout trite Christian platitudes designed to make people feel better with bumper-sticker theology. It is more courageous to ask the hard questions of God and wait for him to answer than it is to find hope on the side of coffee mug. Asking those questions requires courage because, in the end, it is very likely they will not be answered. Ultimately, it isn t about the questions.
Behind the questions is a deep current of emotion threatening to overtake us. But too often, when the fracture in the universe threatens to swallow us up in pain we fail to get fully present to our emotions. In those moments I think we do one of two things. Either we ask the questions but never investigate what emotion is driving those questions, or we resort to some banal Christian slogan to try and make us feel better. This experience forced me to look at one such statement that gets spouted often when people go through a lot:
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God won t give you more than you can handle. If I may be so bold, let s just call that what it is: Limp, anemic sentiments will not stand in the face of a world that is not as it should be. Now that I have said how I feel, let me back up this argument with some actual Biblical evidence. This particular statement, that God won t give you more than you can handle, isn t even in the Bible.
There is a statement that sounds like it. 6 Corinthians 65: 68 says, No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humankind. And God is faithful he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But notice that verse is about temptation.
That s it. You won t be tempted beyond what you can stand up against. This text is not saying that you will not experience more than you can bear. That idea just isn t Biblical. If anything the exact opposite is true.
Look at this text. For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia.