I read an interesting blog post last week entitled “Confronting the lie: God won’t give you more than you can handle.” (http://natepyle.com/confronting-the-lie-god-wont-give-you-more-than-you-can-handle/#sthash.F0U1x0m5.dpuf) Nate Pyle begins by describing a series of terrible events that had piled up in his life. He then declares the cliché “God won’t give us more than we can bear” and labels it a lie.
What was fascinating was not how this young man struggles with reconciling the God of love with all the bad things that happen. That is an exercise that almost every person of faith has had to go through. What I found interesting were the comments at the end of his blog.
My first reaction was to extend my sympathy to Nate and wonder how he was handling it all. I don’t know him and perhaps neither do those who commented. What startled me, though, was that of the 1,072 comments almost all that I read dealt with the theology that he was expressing and, in particular, the view of God he was challenging.
I wonder how often that happens to us. I listened as someone I care about and who I know cares about me defended Phil Robertson, the “Duck Dynasty” millionaire. They were defending his right to free speech and the danger limiting it poses to the country. It never seemed to cross his mind how hurtful those words were and that maybe the theory he was arguing wasn’t as important in that moment as the hurt caused to a person about whom he cares.
Theologically, I, too, disagreed with Nate, but for different reasons than most of his commenters. The truth is I don’t believe God put any of those things upon him. Life is not the same as God, and life can be challenging and random and, sometimes, downright cruel. That is the price for living as people of freewill in a world in which God is not the puppet master of storms, pollution, crazed gunmen, you, or me. Some of the bad happens because of the environment; some because of bad choices we’ve made knowingly and unknowingly. Some of it also just happens. God doesn’t “put it on you.” It just happens.
My prayer is that, when it happens to you, God will hold you in love and send others to bear you in their compassion. When it happens to those around you, I pray that you will be the arms of God for them.
by Michael Piazza
Center for Progressive Renewal