I am pleased to have my friend, Jen Taylor, writing a guest post for my blog today. I hope her words strengthen and guide you as you care for others.
God never gives you more than you can handle…..UMM, really?
We’ve all heard it, that phrase meant to bring some sort of comfort or reassurance to us.
Well, I think I must have heard it just one too many times.
At this point I have prepared a tongue lashing (better than a throat punch) for any sweet friend who mistakenly offers me these taunting words.
I guess I should back up and introduce myself. My name is Jen Taylor and I’m a friend of Ed’s. We have shared the walk with cancer, on slightly different paths, but similar in so many ways.
You see, I’m a nurse and I was caregiver to my best friend for a brief, beautiful time in my life.
My observations have all been from the outside of the bed rail. I have never slept in the threadbare sheets of the hospital, but I have spent a great deal of time and effort keeping those sheets tucked in.
Ed has asked me to visit his blog with my perspective on this journey we are taking with him. So here I am!
Back to my original topic….Just how much will God give us to handle?
I have done some research on this topic. I’m no Ed Hague, but…(this is a disclaimer we use in my house often right before we quote some bible verse which will sway the argument in our own direction) I think some of my well-meaning friends have the scriptures a little confused!
Here are some examples that have been quoted to me over the last few years:
- Ephesians 1:13-14 – No trial can overcome us because we are of God . . .
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 – God is faithful and will not allow you to be challenged beyond what you are able . . .
- 2 Thessalonians 3:3 – God is faithful and will always give us the power to overcome . . .
But there is a problem….!!!!! These scripture snippets are catchy and trendy enough to inspire tattoos, but they are also incomplete and make it easy to miss the most important part of what God is saying!
How much will God give us to handle? Enough to drive us to Him!
God allows life to crush us to break our dependency on self and restore our dependency on Him.
The message in our afflictions is: WE CAN’T HANDLE LIFE WITHOUT HIM.
Yes, it took me 45 years, 3 kids, a husband and the loss of my father AND my best friend to figure this out. I may be a little slow but I’m on board now and that’s what really matters.
Lately, this scripture passage has made a lot more sense to me even if it lacks the catchy, warm, fuzzy sentiment of the others:
Hebrews 12:11-12 – No struggle seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have endured. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
It seems that the writer of Hebrews knew that we are indeed feeble and weak mortals. So how are we meant to strengthen our weak knees and feeble arms when life is overwhelming us?
Is it by heroic self-effort to make ourselves strong again?
Many think so, but remember, God resists all of our self-effort.
Instead, He crushes us so He can restore us to Himself.
He does this that we will cry out to Him and learn to rely on His strength in the midst of our overwhelming circumstances.
To strengthen means “to make straight.” In this context, it refers to a wholeness that restores us to a renewed trust in God.
Suffering is always an invitation to greater dependency upon God.
Back in early May, Ed and I shared a spring afternoon on the sidewalk at Starbucks. Our conversation rambled from Living to Dying and hovered somewhere over the time that Ed is in now…his term not mine, “No Man’s Land.”
He’s in that place that my friend Joanna once referred to as the last mile before the border crossing she was destined to make alone.
It was in that description that I had my “aha” moment….NO MAN in that land….got it!
As a person approaches death, it becomes a very personal thing between them and God.
How do we then care for people who are in the (often frightening) process of being restored to complete dependency upon God through death?
I remember Joanna explaining to me that during her last months the offers being made by her friends were frequently not what she needed.
- Meals prepared and delivered with sad faces determined to “say goodbye” just one more time made her feel guilty for inflicting pain on others.
- The constant flutter of strangers telling her to stay strong for her children set her into a frenzy.
Joanna was so clear in her understanding that this was a time when our caregiving needs to transition from “doing for” to “being with.”
Yes, practical help is still needed, but personal presence rises in importance.
She once told me that the dirty dishes would not be going into the next life and, quite frankly, she would rather hear my honest, tearful words than a vacuum running in the other room.
I learned that the best help I could really offer her
was the gift of my witness to her struggle.
Occasionally she wanted me to share a Popsicle with her, but most often she craved just my presence. No advice, no acts of service, just quiet loving hands to hold hers during the toughest moments.
Both Joanna and Ed shared the same sentiment regarding what we should DO when someone’s life is concluding on this earth:
Just be present and willing to trust that God’s purpose and plan is being accomplished.
What a relief to know that we can let go of our need to manage the concluding steps of the last mile.
What a joy to know that when we are being crushed in death it is in preparation for receiving life.
I’m so thankful that both Ed Hague and Joanna Francis have given me the gift of walking this journey with them.
Truly this year has been life changing for me. There have been more crushing moments than I anticipated and I doubt they are yet finished.
However, I have survived on deep breaths and a growing trust in God’s plan.
He is handling these transitions, just as He promised He would.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” – Henri JM Nouwen
Jen Taylor, BSN, RN
© Ed Hague. All rights reserved.