I read a post last weekend that has kept me thinking about it this entire week. Here is the introduction to Ru’s post at And then she was like blah blah blah
“Something I do not believe: God will never give us more than we can handle.
First of all, for the religious folks out there, this sentiment isn't found in any religious text I've ever read. It's far more likely to show up on bumper stickers. In general, I am wary of things people throw around like scripture that I've never actually read in scripture. ("I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it" ring a bell for anyone?)
In fact, this sentiment is actually just a misstatement of a scripture found in Corinthians (God will not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability, and let's not get into some big theological discussion about how those are two distinct ideas.)”
Ru then goes on to talk about some of the terrible things that can happen in life and concludes:
“So while half of me believes in a loving God who knows me personally and cares about my struggles, the other half believes in that old clockmaker God who put his chips down on the table and let it ride. (Ah yes, the patented Ru mixed metaphor.)
Personally, I don't find those two visions of God particularly at odds with each other -- I just think of God as the anti-helicopter parent. He cares, but there will be no swooping to my rescue.”
Ru, I agree with you that God is not always swooping down to rescue us from life's challenges and that we need to live to help others. However, I know that God loves and cares about us very much and is always aware of what we're going through. We need to have difficult experiences that will help us to learn and to grow. We need to live and act and work and serve others. Experiencing pain and illness and heartache and even death is part of life. However, I do know that through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ we can be strengthened to successfully “handle” anything that life has to throw at us.
There are many scriptural examples from The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ that give me comfort and help to explain this concept. The first verse that came to my mind when I read Ru’s post was this one:
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
1 Nephi 3:7
In this instance, the young man Nephi and his brothers had been given a difficult assignment from the Lord through their father, the prophet Lehi. When Nephi’s older brothers complained that it would be too hard, Nephi had the courage to lead the way. The brothers traveled to Jerusalem to obtain a sacred record from a distant relative, and even though they did experience failure at first, by seeking the guidance of the Lord, eventually they were able to complete the assignment and carry the record to their father Lehi. (you can read the entire story here at 1 Nephi chapters 3 & 4.)
Yes, bad things happen to everyone during this life time. That is actually part of God’s plan and purpose for us, to give us experience and to help us grow, and also to help us recognize and appreciate the good things in life:
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.
2 Nephi 2:11, 12
God has granted free agency to all men, and he will not force anyone to be righteous. Therefore, mostly because of the actions of other people, and sometimes because of acts of nature, bad things do and will happen to good people. This has happened often in the history of our difficult world. One particularly troubling example is found in these Book of Mormon verses. A group of righteous saints who believed in Jesus Christ were trying to live by his teachings. These saints were being persecuted by wicked unbelievers, even to the point of death.
And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire; and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire.
And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire.
And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.
Sometimes God will step in and save us from our problems and challenges, and sometimes he cannot. We cannot see the whole picture like he can. In this instance these innocent people needed too suffer to stand as a witness against the wicked. However, they were blessed to return to the presence of the Lord.
What does it mean to handle something? Does it mean to never have to face a difficult situation? Does it mean to always turn the other cheek? Does it mean to never become angry or depressed or even mentally ill? Does it mean never dying? No one is perfect, and I don’t believe that God expects us to be perfect, but only to strive towards perfection, one step at a time. It is because of the atonement of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that we can handle anything and everything. Jesus Christ suffered for all our sins and all of our sorrows in the Garden of Gethsemane. If we repent, we need not suffer or atone for our sins. He has already paid the price. He allowed himself to be crucified. He died and was resurrected on the third day. Because he was resurrected, we can all be resurrected live again with God, our Heavenly Father.
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
How can we take advantage of the atonement of Jesus Christ and use the power of the atonement to handle anything and everything? By developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We can study his life and teachings and his example, and try to emulate him in our own lives. We can pray to him, asking for help and strength and guidance as we encounter the challenges of our lives, knowing that he understands us and our challenges perfectly. The Savior has already experienced everything we could ever experience in this life.
I love reading about Jesus Christ and his selfless life. I wish I could always selflessly love and serve others the way that he did, and hope to become more like him each day. None of us will ever perfectly handle everything that life throws at us, but I believe that by drawing on the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can successfully handle most challenges that God gives to us.
This video shares more about how Christ's Atonement can bring peace and lift burdens:
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