Sunday, March 30, 2014


Sunday Reflection: More than you can bear...

I've often heard people say that "God won't lay on you more than you can bear."  I have a few issues with that.

The first is the assumption that God is ladling out tragedies to various people, measuring carefully to make sure everyone gets enough.  This doesn't comport at all with what I see around me.  Some people (myself included) largely avoid tragedy for much of their lives, while others suffer blow after blow.  To ascribe this to God with such certainty seems unnecessary.  God is much more than any of us, and we don't understand what he is doing much of the time-- that is in the nature of the God/man relationship.   It might be that God micromanages each event on earth, I suppose, but it also might be that he has allowed us to suffer unequally without his direction at each moment.  We don't know which it is, or if it is at some point in between.  The Bible is clear that God knows all that happens, but that does not mean that he directs each thing that happens.

My second problem is that it seems that sometimes a persons burdens are too much to bear.  They may claim that they are a "survivor," but often that means that they are not dead.  The emotional damage of tragedy has marked them, transformed them, into something much different than what might have been if their lives had proceeded without tumult and despair.

The older I get, the more comfortable I become with the answer of "I don't know," and that includes my answer to the question of "why does God allow tragedy?"

I've always hated that saying, too. Tig Notaro anawered it best in her comedy routine, now called "Live: Tig Notaro." She's one of my heroes.
I always thought of “God won't lay on you more than you can bear” as an adage meant to help those on the brink of falling apart from despair, as some sort of psycho-therapeutic trick for the faithful. The kind of faithful that view God as the micromanager of all ills. I also put this adage in the same category with the one professing that rain on your wedding day is good other words the kind of saying that spells more like “whatever makes you feel better, because this sucks like hell.”
I am comfortable with the fact there's a lot I don't know and a lot I cannot understand or explain simply because it's beyond me. Beyond me is also the notion of ascribing all the unexplained to God's will, for who am I to know God's will?
I totally agree that this old adage is nothing more than that--an old adage. You are also correct in noting that some live their lives with very little tragedy while others seem to live under a black cloud. This is a mystery to me. As a person of faith I have no idea why so many suffer while others live lives of moderate peace and tranquility. I don't know either.

It begs the question; Why do bad things happen to good people?

Life is a mystery.

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