Tuesday, October 16, 2012

God Only Gives Us What We Can Handle... Where's That in the Bible?

     I read Dr. James' Dobson's The New Strong-Willed Child years ago because, well, I needed to!  I remember coming away from the book with the quote, "God gave you this child because He knows you can handle it" as my new mantra.  When parenting got tough, I would recite this phrase in my head.  Admittedly, there were many days when I thought God had messed up because I just could not handle it.
     Not too long ago, while running that quote through my head, again, trying to cling to it like I had for many years, I felt God speak to me, quietly:  "Stop clinging to that.  It's not true.  You can only do it through Me."  Sucking in air at the realization, I started turning this over in my mind.  God does NOT give us what we can handle.  We can only handle trials, tribulations, and all that crazy, tough stuff through His power and His strength.
     Feeling mad and frustrated at Dr. Dobson for "hindering" me, I looked up the "quote" in his book.  This is what I found, underlined in the book, by ME, years ago: 

     "When parents bring one of these tough youngsters into the world, they need to recognize that while raising that child may be difficult for a time, it is worth their effort to do the job right.  Their attitude should be, 'The Lord gave me this challenging child for a purpose.  He wants me to mold and shape this youngster and prepare him or her for a life of service to Him.  And I'm up to the task.  I'm going to make it with the Lord's help'...if they can perceive their task as a God-given assignment and believe that He's going to help them to fulfill it, then the frustrations become more manageable."  (p. 31, underlining mine)

     Sorry, Dr. Dobson, I've been misquoting you in my head for years.  "I'm up to the task.  I'm going to make it with the Lord's help" is quite different from "God gave you this child because He knows you can handle it."   
     Now, the question comes, why, for years and years, did I misquote that book?
     It is simply so easy for me, maybe for you, too, to try to do things in my own strength -- a job, child-rearing, parenting, illness, marriage, church service, etc.  Isn't it the American Way to pull ourselves up by our boot-straps, get to work, and get it done?  If we work hard enough in school, we can get out of our poor neighborhoods.  If we do our best in sports, maybe we'll get a contract.  If we get into a good college, we can get a good job.  If we work our tails off in a business, we can be rich.  If we would just try harder, we wouldn't be in this mess.  If we read enough parenting books, try enough strategies, pray hard enough, find the right system, our kids will turn out... perfect.
     Don't you think our Enemy looks on, nodding his approval, knowing we will fail, happy to see us striving in our own power?  

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13 NKJV

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.   
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV

     Thanks Lord for the reminder.  In all I do, in all that You have set before me, help me to focus on YOU as the source of my strength and power.  Help me when I've had all I can take.  Lift me up.  Renew my strength.  Help me stay the course.  Give me patience, perseverance, endurance to run this race.  For when I am weak, yet trusting in You and Your power, then I am strong.

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