If you’ve spent any time in Christian circles, you’ve heard the saying: God never gives you more than you can handle.
But is this really true or biblical? I’m certain whoever invented this statement didn’t have kids. My drama queen toddler princess is more than I can handle. My tendency to over-analyze every situation is more than I can handle.
But God’s grace. His refusal to leave me in the state I’m in. This is what allows me to rise each time my face hits the ground and I wonder, “What now, God?” Often, I forget this truth and need an in-your-face reminder. This happened a couple of years ago, when I was preparing for a writer’s conference. It was my first time flying solo in three years.
There are few things that give me more anxiety than traveling alone.
The commute in bumper to bumper traffic, the million things to remember and my tendency to predict endless worst-case-scenarios all combine to make me a tinge crazy. Or annoying. Or both.
So when my husband asked me a question that prevented a complete disaster the night before my flight, instead of praising, I panicked.
“Are you flying out of Dulles or Reagan?” he asked.
Good question. I’d scheduled my flight months before and had it in my head that I was flying out of Dulles. Since we live over two hours from a major airport, I’d even booked a hotel near Dulles. I had my whole morning planned out to make it as stress-free as possible.
I would take the free hotel shuttle. Check.
I would leave my car at the hotel parking. Check.
I would arrive at the airport two hours early instead of at the last possible minute. Double check.
Now, I was checking my itinerary and realized- my flight was out of Reagan. Before I go any further, let me say I did thank God for my husband’s question and the fact we made this discovery before I arrived at the wrong airport.
But then, frustration over my mistake turned to more anxiety. More predicting other things that could go wrong.
I barely slept the night before my flight, convinced my alarm would fail.
The commute would take too long, and I’d miss my plane.
When I got to the airport, they announced a delayed flight not once, but three times. As I sat there worrying once again about the unknown, God graced me with an unexpected gift. A break from all the chaos in my overactive mind.
She sat down right next to me in the terminal, eating Five Guys. At first, I glanced at her sideways in annoyance. God help me, but I interact with people at airports as little as possible. Then she started talking and I thought of my grandmother, who passed several years ago.
She was a grandma and was traveling alone too, all the way from Germany. Her courage moved me. We showed each other pictures of our families laughed at the endless plane maintenance announcements that normally freak me out.
Our conversation gave me space to breathe. A break from the what ifs and the anxious thoughts. And I realized: God was with me, and I could do this, flight delays, interruptions and all.
But here’s the key- I had to slow the speed of my mind enough to see his grace. To see his provision. And when this elderly woman sat down, he allowed me to see what I was missing.
Sometimes faith requires us to change our “What if” to “If God.”
If God is with me, I am never alone.
If God in control, I don’t have to try to control the unknown.
If God calls me to do something, he won’t leave me out to dry.
God never gives you more than you can handle? Sorry, friend, but it’s a lie. Nowhere in scripture does he say this. But when life gives more than we can handle, his desire is that we will turn to the source of all strength: himself.
When Paul begged for the thorn in his flesh to be removed, he said:
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
Each day we wake up is filled with plenty we can mess up, over think, over do and run from in fear. But when our mess meets God’s perfect love and we allow him in, anything is possible. Even travel to a new city, completely alone, to a conference where you don’t know a soul.
This is not because we’re in control, friends. It’s because we allow God to be. And I thank him each day he takes this girl a little further out of her comfort zone.
If you need further encouragement that God is for you, even in the midst of the struggle, uncertainty, and unknown future, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season, which encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“As somebody who has spent the last year reading a variety of Christian living books, I can say that this is one of my top three books in the genre. Abby McDonald does something that many other authors do not. She digs deep.
While so many in this genre are “comfort Christian” books that remind us we are loved as we are, McDonald goes far past the surface as she explores her own life and how she has needed, time and again, to shift her focus and her thinking away from secular ideas and back to God.
I truly appreciate how we are not told that it is all easy and that her life is now perfect because she just shifted on over to Jesus and “poof!” everything was great again. McDonald reminds us that this is hard work, that we are human and that life is hard. She also helps us to refocus on fighting our fear by seeking our faith as a grounding platform on which to stand.
McDonald’s personal stories are woven throughout each chapter but once again she has a level of vulnerability in her sharing that many authors fail to have. This makes Shift far more compelling of a read; one that feels real and normal. One that is about being human.” -Jen Fournier
You can purchase a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.