Earlier this week, a friend and I were mulling over this past year and how, on a warm evening back in July, we sat outside a favorite cafe, coffee in hand, talking about the next five months that were still to come. We were both feeling a sense of serious change ahead. It was as if we were on the edge of something and not quite hearing yet from God about what it was. We discussed being flexible, how hard change is, and the need to feel in control of our journeys.
Little did either of us know that five months later, I’d be recovering from horrific surgery and dealing with unforseen health issues, and she’d be taking a huge leap of faith into a whole new career approach and financial situation.
But on that summer evening at the cafe, we were both feeling something about our lives that was absolutely correct- we just never could have known how right we were.
So many of my friends and family have dealt with 2015 as a season of change- and it hasn’t been easy. From job losses and job offers, to health issues, to huge moves, to marriages and engagements, to deaths and new lives being brought into this world…every year contains these things, and yet…this year was just hard on so many levels. Even the happiest things seemed to come with a price, and it wasn’t at all what I expected.
I think that is the beauty of grace right there. God gives us the answers as we need them, the strength and perseverance as necessary, and just enough light to see the next step. If I could have seen what was coming this time last December, I would have run away, probably screaming, in the other direction. “There is no way I can handle all of that!” I would have yelled at God. “Don’t You know that? Don’t You care?!”
I cannot stand the saying, “God only gives you what you can handle.” This is not Biblical and it’s totally false. Well-meaning people have said this to me for years as wave after wave of trial has hit my family or myself. And honestly, it’s a cop-out response when we don’t know what else to say to a grieving person or a situation we can’t relate to. Instead of comfort, it’s like rubbing salt into a gaping wound.
No. Quite frankly, I’m not strong. Or courageous. Or faithful. At least not on my own. On my own, I fall apart- hard. I bleed, I sob, I scream, I fight for control- and it’s ugly. It’s messy. It’s overwhelming. It’s human.
But we have a merciful, kind and compassionate Father who does know our limits and how much we can take emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And there are times in our lives when we might completely fall apart after having “handled” the last trial so well- which is why He steps in to weather the storm for us, even when we don’t realize it. I don’t think the focus should ever be about whether or not we can handle something. Instead, we should be pressing into Him for strength, and letting Him “handle” the situations as they come.
So, 2016, only a few days away and brimming with unknowns and unanswered questions, places yet to be seen, strangers yet to become irreplaceable friends, blessings and victories, trials and setbacks…I am ready for you. I’m still standing after all. And I anticipate a new year of hope, dreams realized, answered prayers, and a whole lot of Jesus “handling” life’s twists and turns with me and for me.