Have you heard comedian Tig Notaro’s popular stand-up set? It was hot on the public radio circuit last fall. Tig dealt with a series of illnesses and hospitalizations, a breakup, the sudden death of her mother and a breast cancer diagnosis, all within a handful of months and the set was tragic and hilarious all at once.
I don’t know anything about Tig’s beliefs. But this quote grabbed me and hasn’t let go:
“But you know what’s nice about all of this is that you can always rest assured that God never gives you more than you can handle. Never. Never. When you’ve had it, God goes, all right, that’s it. I just keep picturing God going, you know what? I think she can take a little more.
And then the angels are standing back going, God, what are you doing? You are out of your mind. And God was like, no, no, no. I really think she can handle this.
But why, God? Like, why? Why?
I don’t know. I just, you know. Just trust me on this.
Bible scholar I am not, but “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” is not in the Bible. Neither is “When God closes a door, he opens a window,” or any of the other ones we blurt out like word vomit.
Clichés about God and worry aren’t cutting it for me.
And so, like a sponge, I’m absorbing Ed Welch’s Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest this summer. Unlike those dime-a-dozen clichés, Running Scared tackles worry and anxiety from a theologically-rich perspective.
Better still, I’m reading it alongside a group of phenomenal women who encourage me constantly. The book is bold in the gospel and raw in real life. (Really, I give it six out of five stars, it’s that good. Everything I’ve read by Ed Welch has been remarkable, really.)
A few weeks ago, our group discussed worries about money and material things. One girl shared a compelling statistic:
Only 10% of our happiness is defined by external circumstances.
Yes. Just 10%.
Were God not in the picture, I’d argue against that. I’d look around and point to all I’ve done, all I’ve built, all I’ve bought. I’d defend it with tongue and sword. I’d also point to what’s not happening – you know, the millions of wrongs done to me, the obstacles that have knocked me down, the bad luck. The hurtful words, the thoughtless genes, the me-against-the-world battles I’ve lost. I’d tell that 10% to go fly a kite – but with a less PG and more R-rated flair.
Friends, I’ve been lost and found, and I’m messy as ever. Because Christ is a saving Christ, 10% isn’t surprising.
Christ and his consistency make that 90% the nine-out-of-ten pie pieces that matter. In spite of my anxiety, in spite of the wrecks . . . there’s a peace that is both underlying and overarching.
When we are weary and strength is a long-lost fifth cousin ten times removed, God says it’s okay to cry out to him. It’s welcome, actually. Our faith in ourselves will falter and we may be weak.
We may not be prepared for every storm right now. But Christ will give us grace in that moment to endure what comes.
Faith isn’t a Pink Pearl eraser: it doesn’t go through the pages of life and erase the crummy parts. If anything, it’s a Sharpie. The messes stay because they’re redeemed.
So I’ll glory in my Redeemer and I’ll boast about my weakness. Because in my weakness, God is strong, strong, strong.
Linking up today with Lisa Pulliam at More To Be for her new series, Transformed Tuesdays. I’m a fan.
Also jumping back in with Just Write on Extraordinary Ordinary. Treat to be back!