Have you ever thought your heart and mind couldn’t be at peace because your circumstances were far from peaceful? I have good news, my friend.
Peace is available even in the midst of less than peaceful circumstances.
Considering life will always present circumstances and problems that threaten to steal our peace and fill our hearts and minds with negative thoughts, this is great news for followers of Jesus!
Scripture tells us in John 16:33 that in this life we will have troubles. It’s a given. In fact, even when we’re trying to embrace God’s peace instead of letting our less-than-peaceful circumstances crush our spirits, there may still come a time when we feel God has given us more than we can handle.
And honestly, those problems just might be more than we can handle.
More than our heart can bear. More than we can process mentally without having fear, negativity, pessimism, frustration and maybe even hopelessly begin to root deeply into the recesses of our minds. Sometimes, the negative happenings of life just seem like too much. I get it.
But nothing is ever too much for God, or too much for us if we abide in Him.
All too often, when we’re going through rough times, well-meaning people try to reassure us by quoting the all-too-popular “God will never give us more than we can handle” cliché, and I bet you’ve heard or been told that before. But the truth is, nowhere in scripture do we find that saying. In fact, scripture says just the opposite.
The disciples alone experienced so many countless troubles and serious hardships – physically-mentally-spiritually-emotionally- that it makes one wonder how they carried such heavy loads and managed to stay bold, faithful and strengthened in the face of such never ending adversity. But we all know, they weren’t doing life alone. They had Jesus. And so do we.
The confusion about the phrase “God will never give us more than we can handle”, most likely originates from 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (NLT) Notice this verse mentions temptations, not burdens.
Here Paul is saying we will never be ‘tempted’ beyond what we can stand up against in God’s strength, not that we will never feel burdened beyond what we think we are capable of handling. Because when we’re feeling the most burdened, is when we are tempted to think negatively, but also, when we are most likely to call out to God and seek to hear His voice.
Sometimes problems put us right where He wants us – in His Presence seeking His intervention.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly experienced painful circumstances and adversities that I thought were more than I could handle. Times when I wasn’t happy with God about all I was going through. Times when I found myself wondering if God had in deed given me more than I could bear. Wondering if the mistakes of my past would sting my heart forever. Wondering if the weight of the hurt that others inflicted upon me could ever be lifted. Wondering if I could ever forgive those who had betrayed me. Wondering if the situations I was facing would ever end or be resolved, and doubting they could ever be used for God’s good, much less His good in my life. Sometimes even wondering if I might get crushed under the weight of my negative thoughts and emotions as I contemplated just wanting to give up hope entirely.
I love how The Message Bible reminds us of God’s holy promise and instructs us about what to do when we’re at the end our rope and negative thoughts are consuming our every thought. We find this instruction in Psalm 55:22, “Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out. He’ll never let good people topple into ruin.”
Here we see David complaining to God about the heartache and fear resulting from friends who had betrayed him and enemies who were after him. His burdens seemed overwhelming, and in utter despair he poured his concerns out to God. Yet what is so amazing in that in the same breath, we also see him choosing to pile those troubles onto God’s shoulders, committing to trust and believe He would bring victory and help him get through.
You see, David changed his attitude, and it immediately changed his life.
When we control our thoughts instead of letting them control us, positive changes pour in.
Our ‘enemies’ are probably different than David’s. Instead of people, they may be sin, regrets of the past, feelings of unworthiness, or difficult and painful circumstances. Our enemies may be stressful situations at work, hurtful co-workers, broken marriages, prodigal children, or financial worries. But like David, we too can find comfort and spiritual healing if we believe God is with us, patiently waiting for us to depend on Him and lay down the emotional weights we are shouldering. When we find healing in our hearts, we can also find healing in our minds, which opens the door for us to begin thinking positively even if life doesn’t appear to warrant it.
Life can be hard. The past can grip our hearts. Memories can be painful. Burdens can feel heavy. Regrets can feel suffocating. Emotions can seem overwhelming. Situations can seem hopeless and more than you can bear. But even in the midst of the most raging storms, it is possible to think positive thoughts, feel positive emotions, live a positive life and have an unsinkable faith just like David’s. It’s all a matter of choosing to do so, despite the “enemies” around us.
The real truth is, God will give us more than we can handle all alone, but it will never be more than He can handle.
He has also given us the ability to control our thoughts, which helps us fight the battlefield of the mind. If we choose to think negative, we will feel negative, and live negative, and a negative mind will never lead to a positive life. But if we choose to think positive, a positive life is in our future and God will hold our hand all the way there.
How might your life change today if you decided to change your attitude before God changes your circumstances? If you’re for a mind over matter transformation, and to begin living a more positive life, stop and pray and invite God to start ushering you into the land of optimism, one positive thought at a time.
Tracie Miles is a national Speaker and Author with the internationally known Proverbs 31 Ministries (www.proverbs31.org) and has spent the last eleven years inspiring women to live intentionally for Christ In addition to Unsinkable Faith, she is also the author of two best selling books, Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past To Create A Beautiful Future(2014) and Stressed Less Living: Finding God’s Peace In Your Chaotic World (2012). She is also a contributing author to the popular Zondervan NIV Women’s Devotional Bible, and the Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today Daily Devotional Book. Tracie is a monthly contributing writer for the Proverbs 31 Ministries Encouragement for Today daily devotions, which reach nearly one million people per day around the world with encouragement from God’s Word. Tracie has 3 children and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Now for the giveaway*!
To enter to win a copy of Unsinkable Faith, leave a comment by Sunday, April 9 and share one way you can pile your troubles on God’s shoulders.
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*The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations Linda on winning a copy of Tracie’s book, Unsinkable Faith. Thank you all for your comments. I’m so thankful for each one of you!