Close Your Mouth. Open Your Heart.
Point Number 1: For the longest time, the “word” irregardless wasn’t a word. If I heard it used in conversation, it registered in that part of my brain that processes sounds like ‘nails on a chalkboard’, a cat caught under a rocking chair or anything sung by Taylor Swift. Many modern “dictionaries” now classifiy ‘irregardless’ as a non-standard word, but a word nonetheless. As I type, spellcheck is delightfully highlighting irregardless with a squiggly, red underline. We learn from the website quickanddirtytips.com. The prefix ‘ir’- is a negative prefix. If you add…‘ir’ to a word that's already negative like regardless, you're making a double-negative…that literally means “without without regard.” Here’s a tip. If you are doing your best to present a valid, intellectual point to support your stance on, well, anything, just use regardless and choose your other words carefully. You don’t want to be deemed illiterate two seconds after you open your mouth to show everybody how smart you are.
Point Number 2: Ever hear the phrase, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle”. Turns out, it’s not entirely true or biblical. Disagree? Let me introduce you to Job, David, Noah, Joseph, Jesus and every other person that has found themselves at the “I CAN’T HANDLE THIS” end of God’s will. This phrase is serially misquoted as scripture more times than Kim Kardashian has hoisted a camera aloft to snap a selfie. God often does give us more than we can handle, because if we could handle it, well, we wouldn’t need God now would we?
Applying this phrase to someone’s pain is like slapping a band-aid on a hatchet wound. The scripture being mis-referenced here is 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
God provides a way of escape when temptation that leads to sin, comes your way. However, God allows life altering, will-breaking, unmanageable situations into our lives so that we stop leaning “on our own understanding”, strength and resolve and instead surrender to and seek Him out. Temptation and unfortunate circumstances aren’t synonymous.
God often does give us more than we can handle. We can also give ourselves more than we can handle and then mistakenly attribute credit to God. When God does allow trials that are beyond our understanding and strength, it is often to demonstrate our great need for Him. If we flippantly preach this feel good phrase to non-Christians and God does give them more than they can handle, it is God, not us, that gets the blame. We are telling people they don’t need God, because they have what it takes, in themselves, to make it without God. That message contradicts Jesus’ message in John 15. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:5. The writing is on the wall. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.
Be challenged my friends over the next few weeks. Make every effort to retire this overworked and useless phrase. Instead, offer those in pain, a hug, a listening ear, personal prayer, your own testimony of God’s grace or full-blown scripture that will minister to their eternal well-being. Refuse to simply placate someone’s fleeting, emotional need, when the Holy Spirit is ready to use the opportunity to speak through you and lead your friend to Jesus.
Hard times can crush the heart and open it to ministry. Scripture allows the truth, grace and wisdom of God safe passage into our lives.
Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
How does this truth relate to my life? I would not have turned to Jesus Christ were it not for my struggles with homosexuality. That struggle opened a window of opportunity for God, in my life. I had the “perfect” life. I was smart, resourceful and determined to make it on my own without God, my family or any other human, but the struggle with my broken sexuality was far more than I could handle alone. I struggled for many years to reconcile my homosexual desires with my Christianity. As a Christian, it simply isn’t an option to fully surrender to a life patterned around my same sex attractions. I needed the help of an all-powerful savior and all knowing God to help me discover God’s truth and direction concerning my sexuality. I don’t celebrate my homosexual desires like many in the world today, but I know that without that level of sexual brokenness I would not have fully experienced the love of my savior Jesus.
Don’t just pat someone on the back my friends. Touch them down deep with the guiding light of God’s word.