Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Light in the Dark
I heard something today in a movie I was watching. The character said, "God won't put more on you that you can bear." It reminded me of the time after Jerry died. People were trying to give me comfort and for some reason they think a hug and that Biblical reference helps. 

First off, it doesn't help. Secondly, it isn't a Biblical reference. There is no place in the Bible that says God won't put more on you than you can bear. Really. It isn't there. Not anywhere at all does it say you'll be delivered from any burden you can't bear. And nowhere does it say your burdens won't kill you. 

No, it doesn't.


So why do people say "The Bible says God won't put more on you than you can bear"? I've thought about this a lot, as you can see. When I kept hearing it from all these people trying to help me, it suddenly dawned on me that I had no point of reference for that "verse". And if you asked anyone, they'd simply tell you it was "in the Bible". So I looked. And was confounded. It wasn't there. Why would people say it was there when it clearly was not? I came up with a couple of things.

  1. Because they don't pay attention. 
  2. They make their own interpretation. 
  3. They repeat what they hear everyone else say without verifying the truth of it.

Honestly, #3 is probably the only reason but I'm being charitable. Here is what the apostle Paul actually says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 - "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able: but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it."

Now, you can argue the point all day long but that doesn't say God won't put more on you than you can bear. What it says is that when faced with temptation, you are given the ability, no matter how bad the temptation, to escape it. You can walk away from any temptation. It doesn't say it will be easy but it says he will make a way for you to escape the temptation, that you may be able to bear it. And out of that last clause comes a whole new scripture that means something entirely different.

I can buy the idea that you can't be tempted more than you can bear. That makes perfect sense to me. Every negative action you take, you make a conscious choice to either continue or turn away. It may be a hard decision to turn away, but you can do it. We are gifted with very strong wills. We might struggle with the decision to move away from temptation but we can do it.

But temptation has nothing to do with the burdens we bear in life, except the wrong decision creates some of the burdens we bear. And for every burden you create, you will bear it. Some of those burdens just might be more than you can carry. They might even kill you. 

Other verses clarify this burden bearing thing even further. Galatians 6:4-5 says: "But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden."

See that? Doesn't say anyone will bear them for you nor does it say they won't be more than you can bear. And if you read further, you get a very interesting connection. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." You create your own burdens and you get to carry them. That's the implication of "reap". You sow tiny seeds. You reap bountiful harvests. Hosea 8:7 says, "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind." You are going harvest a big burden.

Galatians 6;2 says, "Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." So, not only do you have to carry your own junk, but you have to carry other people's! Again, it doesn't say that the burdens won't be more than you can handle. Not anywhere.

So, don't assume God is going to remove burdens. I can tell you from personal experience that he does not. Jesus would tell you the same thing. "Father, if thou be willing remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will but thine be done." Luke 22:42 They crucified him. You think you have problems?

Sometimes people refer to another quote by Jesus. "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30. 

Please note that he did not say he'd take your burden from you. A yoke is something used to assist in carrying heavy loads. It doesn't change the load. It just shifts the weight. He said he'd give you "rest for you soul". You're still carrying the same burdens, and it may be easier at times, but you can sit down and rest under the shelter of his arms.

Now, if you asked me how to do that, I can't tell you. Really. I have no idea. I'm being truthful here. See, I know God is real. I know He loves me. I know He has provided for me. But the burdens I carry have nearly crushed me and sometimes I get very confused by that. I ask God, often, "Are you trying to kill me? Do you want me dead? Cause I'm dying and if you do, there's easier ways." Really, I've had this conversation with God. Really.

But the burdens are still there. I see no point and no purpose to Jerry dying. I exercised and stayed fit for years and I'm nearly crippled some days and in agony of pain I can't stop. I carry other burdens that I see no good in. I get angry because I've carried them so far and so long and I'm so tired.

Sometimes there are good days. The road is sunny and level. I rest but then I reach a mountain and the weight become so heavy. Sometimes life is all uphill.  

Don't ask me how to fix the burdens. I don't know. I can say for certain that there are people placed in my path that lift my spirits, pray for me, send me emails, call me, taken me to lunch, given me a card, a gift, a hug, or a smile. The load is still heavy but I was able to rest in the light they shed. 

So, the next time you want to comfort someone suffering beneath a heavy load, don't utter that stupid lie. The burdens they carry may very well be too heavy for them. They may be dying beneath the load. We are to attempt to save the lives of those crushed beneath loads too heavy for them. You may be the person who carries the light in the darkness they travel. Sometimes light is all you need for the journey.


  1. I think that people are trying to help when actually their is nothing they can do. They can let you know they are here if needed and that they love you.

    Sometimes as the hugger, I feel that a hug is maybe a way of saying I am sorry for your loss.

    One time I asked a friend how she was? Now how stupid is that? How do you think she is? I just wanted to say something to let her know I am here to help.

    I did not think about what I was say.

    Now I try not to say much in fear of saying the wrong thing and just give hugs.

  2. Let me weigh in on this. Hopefully I won't offend.

    The operative word in that misused, overused verse is "temptation." Temptation has nothing to do with burden. Totally different thing and context.

    You have 3 things listed as to why people say that verse. I will add a 4th. Some, not all, but SOME people say that verse to blow you off. They say because they don't want to really deal with your pain and have no intention of coming along beside you and helping you shoulder that burden.

    There. I said it. It's cold and cynical, but it's a sad truth.

    By the way, I don't think it's stupid to ask how a friend is doing. When I ask a *friend* how they are doing, I expect honesty. If they are doing bad, I expect them to tell me and to wipe off that Christiany, churchy fake face--because they can be real with me because I am their friend.

    I could so go on and on. This is a soapbox subject for me--hard to believe, I know. Oh well, this is why I'm not the popular person at church. LOL!

    1. It doesn't offend me when people have opinions. I may not like them but that's a personal issue for me.

      I agree some people don't want to deal with your pain. I found that a good many people will walk around the building rather than have to address you about your grief. A widow is virtually excommunicated from the body of Christ once her husband dies. I'm not talking smack. All functions in church tend to be centered primarily around families and couples. If you have neither, you sit in your pew and then you go home. You have to find other outlets.

      I used to say, "I'm doing fine." It was what people wanted to hear. I didn't want to burden anyone. But I don't do that anymore. I got tired of making other people feel better by pretending I was o.k.. I got tired of giving people an easy out. I decided to see just how much they really were concerned. Now, if they ask, I tell them how I feel. And you know what happened? People smiled, eyes glazed over, and they drifted away. They almost never speak to me now. So, your honest won't bug me at all. I understand it. I don't make it a soap box anymore. I have more or less accepted that it isn't something I caused and I can't fix. But I do try and not make the same mistakes.

  3. Let me add a 5th item. Sometimes people say that, out of a belief that it might make you feel better.

    1. No doubt. I never doubted the sincerity of the individuals who say it. I am sure the woman who told me a the funeral that "I'd find someone else" was eminently sincere. That doesn't mean she should have made the comment. She should have thought about what she said before she said it. But I'm quite sure she meant well.

      But my issue was not with anyone's sincerity when they make these comments. Some are quite ridiculous and simply arise because no one trains people how to express condolences.

      The post deals with my question "Why would people say it was there (in the Bible) when it clearly was not?" They say "The Bible says...." If it wasn't prefaced with that, it would be a simple opinion. I can accept opinions. But when you're suffering, as a Christian, we frequently grasp Scripture for comfort. There are many verses I've marked and repeatedly turn to when I'm stressed. Imagine my feelings when I discovered the truth was God wasn't going to do anything of the sort. The middle of a death is not when you want to have to reevaluate these things. But one does.

      The moral: Think before you speak. Don't repeat things that you aren't sure are true. And don't offer empty platitudes to people during times of grief. A simple "I'm so sorry for your loss." is extremely adequate and appreciated.