My guest blogger today is Susan Breeding. She shares her hard-won wisdom about suffering.
A quote that has been making the rounds for years says, “God will not give you more than you can handle.” However, nothing could be further from the truth. God gives us more than we can handle all the time. Ask anyone who has experienced an excruciating loss. Ask anyone going through unfathomable pain–physical or mental. God gives more than we can handle.
My husband, Bruce, had a stroke on June 1, 2019. I found him lying on our bedroom floor, a few breaths away from death. Even though he had been so close to death, it was initially considered a minor stroke. The doctors were optimistic about his recovery.
But sometime during the following night, Bruce had a massive stroke; there was so much blood flooding his brain that it wasn’t possible to determine which parts of his brain had been affected. It was a huge guessing game for some time. The neurosurgeon gave us very little hope. But God…God had some magnificent plans for Bruce, beyond what the medical staff could possibly have imagined.
Did God give Bruce more than he could handle? My husband couldn’t move at first, couldn’t speak, was on a ventilator and had numerous tubes running in and out of him. He literally had no control over his mind or body. He couldn’t handle anything. His stroke was a severe mercy sent by God to bring glory to His name.
By God’s grace, slowly, Bruce’s mind and body began to recover. He learned to communicate what he was thinking–at first, nonverbally. I wasn’t sure if I would ever hear his voice again. Later, from one barely audible word at a time he progressed to a volume that almost sounded like shouting at times. Then, miraculously he started singing and even laughing.
The muscles in his limbs came to life, though the medical staff had said it wouldn’t happen. God renewed Bruce’s strength, little by little, one anxiety-filled physical and occupational therapy session at a time. He made great strides in learning to walk.
But underneath the remarkable progress, there was discouragement. Bruce felt, and said, he couldn’t do it. Right in the middle of therapy he announced, on more than one occasion, “I can’t do this anymore.” “This is impossible.” “I quit!” Was he doing what he said he couldn’t do? Yes. Was he handling it? No.
I was so thrilled and proud of his progress, but he was not. One day I asked, “What about, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ What about, ‘With God, all things are possible.’ What about, ‘Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord, rather than for men’?” Bruce looked at me, totally spent, and with very little expression on his face and said, “I understand it, intellectually.” Bruce was not one to mince words.
All Bruce really wanted to do, from the moment he realized that he had suffered a stroke, was to go Home. I knew that in my heart, even while I tried to do my part to help my husband recover.
Never say that God will not give us more than we can handle. He does it all the time. By giving us more than we can handle, God gets our attention; He disciplines us; He rescues us; He purifies us like gold; He shows us how very much He loves us.
“The Lord your God is in your midst;
he is a warrior who can deliver.
He takes great delight in you;
he renews you by his love;
he shouts for joy over you.”—Zephaniah 3:17 (NET)
God was in our midst in a visible way from June through November. He gave us more than we could handle and took care of our every need. He showed himself to be a mighty Savior. He showered us with His love and calmed my fears–I couldn’t miss His hand in our lives.
And God was in our midst when my husband finally went Home to be with the Lord on November 11, 2019 on a victorious, triumphant, bittersweet night. Bruce must have been ecstatic to meet his Savior face to face.
God continues to give me more than I can handle. And He continues to be my mighty Savior, rejoicing over me with joyful, comforting songs and scriptures that He places before me, and filling me with His peace. He renews me with His love (Zephaniah 3:17) or, as the NIV so beautifully puts it, He quiets me with His love. Amen.