More than you can handle
I heard a devotion today based on a verse from Malachi (3:3).
He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.
The devotion can be found at this site, and it concerns the idea that God is like a silversmith, watching the silver as it is refined in the furnace.
The point of the devotion is that God must put us in the fire so that we can be purified, to become more God-like. He will never heat us up too much; he will never give us more than we can handle.
Does that sound right to you? I think it places God in the position of being the one who causes bad things to happen to us. I have trouble with that kind of assumption.
I think it is wrong to tell someone that "God will not give us more than we can handle." Sometimes people really do have more than they can handle. If a person believes the logic of that devotional, then how does he explain those moments in time when he does have more than he can handle -- when he is overwhelmed? What explaination is left? Does God not love him? Is he particularly weak and whiny? If none of that works for him as an explanation, then he's left with lying to himself, "This is not more than I can handle."
Yes, I do realize that with God, we can receive the strength to make it through anything in life. I disagree, though, with the idea that God causes bad things to happen to us to strengthen us. I think if we try to encourage people through their problems by saying that "God won't give you more than you can handle," we encourage instead of faith, anger at God. We encourage people to bury their problems inside, rather than dealing with them. We point peole to solitude instead of to reaching out to others for help.
The lady delivering the devotional today at our meeting said to someone else in the meeting, as she gave her the typed page, "Here. This is for you or your sister." This recipient was dealing with her sister's attempted. God will not give you more than you can handle? This person's sister had more than she could handle. Why do we try to convince people that God won't allow this to happen, instead of telling them the truth, and encouraging them to reach out for help -- either from people around them or from God?
It makes us more comfortable to believe that God won't allow us to be overloaded. It's a Pollyanna hope. It is a false hope.
I think this kind of thinking provides a barrier to faith. How can I believe in the goodness of God when I am weighed down by more than I can handle, if I am told that God won't do that? Why would I reach out to God for help if I blamed him for my problems?
Image: The fountain and cross in our prayer garden, seen through the fence.