A Word from Family Discipleship Pastor Austin Dovin

My name is Austin Dovin and I am the Pastor of Family Discipleship here at Redemption Hill Church. It is my honor to share this week’s devotion while Dr. Mike is traveling home from vacation. On Sunday morning our Associate Pastor Al Barrera kicked off our new series on faith. In his sermon he spoke about a lie many Christians believe: “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Al argued that God actually consistently gives us more than we can handle to show us and remind us that our faith must be in Jesus, not ourselves.

I couldn’t agree more with Al. The idea that God will not give us more than we can handle is a prideful belief if you think about it. The idea is about us and our capacity to bear trials, struggles, pain, or whatever else needs “handled”. It limits God as a distant figure setting up life and then leaving us to our own devices to solve the issues, he gives us. Just this idea points to the absurdity of this view, but let’s get practical. What happens when you cannot handle what God has given you? What happens when life is too hard when you’ve had too much? Are you a bad Christian? Is God a bad God? Certainly not.

I can share from personal experience that God often gives more than one can handle and He moves the most in these seasons of our life. For me, my greatest growth in faith came in a time that was too much to handle. When I was 17, I was nominal in my faith. I wanted to live for God in the future, but at that moment, I wanted to play sports and make people like me. I was not headed in a good direction. But thank God, he gave me more than I could handle.

The fall of my senior year my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was the most difficult thing I could imagine. I constantly thought, “Why me and my family God?” I didn’t think things could get worse, until they did. The following Spring while my dad’s health was rapidly declining, I would find my grandmother suffering a major heart attack, I would have a surgery on a broken foot, and I would find my 10-year-old brother was on life support awaiting a heart transplant. Later in the summer my father would pass away and my younger brother, who by God’s grace was given a new heart would have extensive brain damage. It is funny to think that I thought the cancer diagnosis at the beginning was too much to handle, but it was only the beginning. I can honestly say that God gave me too much to handle. I hit rock bottom. And while it sounds crazy, I am thankful for, and would not change this season of my life if given the chance because it was in this that God drew me back to himself closer than I ever had been before.

In the darkest moment of my life, at rock bottom, when God had given me way more than I could handle, it was not my strength that got me through, but his. He was right there with me. I learned to lean on and depend on him more than ever. I had a peace I could never explain other than God was with me and while everything around me and my life, my family, and my future were crashing down, he was not going anywhere. One verse I clung to in that season was James 1:2-4:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

This verse meant so much to me because it gave me hope that God was working in the worst moments of my life. It gave meaning to my suffering. It gave purpose to my plight. It reminded me that God was not abandoning me but strengthening me. I can honestly say that it was because of this season in my life that I am a pastor today. I thank God, he gave me more than I could handle.

Do not believe the lie that God will not give you more than you can handle. You will be severely disappointed or worse, miss out on a closer walk with him because you constantly run from anything difficult. God works in the moments that are too hard for us to handle. It is in these moments that we realize how desperate we are for him and how helpless we are on our own. God will consistently give you more than you can handle. Here are a few verses to hold onto during those seasons of life:

· 2 Corinthians 4:17: For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

· Romans 5:3-4: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

· Psalms 119:7: It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

· Hebrews 2:10: For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

· Philippians 3:10: that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

When life comes crumbling down, God does not. Run to him. Cling to him. If you are struggling right now, know that God is working. You are not alone. He is with you. His church is with you. God will give us more than we can handle, but He will also see us through the other side with a stronger faith.

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