How many times have you heard the saying, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” during a difficult time in your life? If you are like me, the answer is too many! While this seemingly encouraging statement may make some feel better it is truly a misrepresentation of who God truly is. During times of hardships, brokenness, heartbreak, pain, and uncertainty we often reach out for an answer or comforting words. These words for me became a source of more hurt and more confusion.
In 2009 after months of trying my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. Having planned for this amazing gift for so long we were beyond elated. When I was at the very beginning of my second trimester I began to have complications. It was New Year’s Eve 2009 that began a journey that would forever change my life. Days later, I found out I had lost the baby to a missed miscarriage. Devastated and heartbroken are the closest I can come to putting my feelings into words. The death of a child due to pregnancy loss is a pain unimaginable and journey that never ends. As our family, friends, co-workers offered their words of encouragement and sympathy hearing this simple saying multiple times not only broke me, even more, it also made me question God and his character.
To me, those words were leading to the assumption that God had caused this devastating moment in my life because I was not ready to be a mother or maybe not meant to be a mother at all. Others insinuated there could have been physical or mental challenges for the baby so God knew I couldn’t handle that and took my baby instead . The biggest misconception following this seemingly simple and encouraging saying is that God causes everything in our lives he gives us these hardships and tragedies.
The truth is God does not cause all the hardships, struggles, and tragedies in our lives. He does not give us devastation as a lesson, a test, or a consequence. God does not have a concrete set of blueprints for every step of our lives and he does not purposefully give us hardships. God has a plan for our lives that he has established much like a strategy but he has also given us freedom, flexibility, and choices.
Unfortunately, part of humans having freedom and the ability to make choices is what led to the broken world we live in. The moment Adam and Eve decided to disobey God in the Garden of Eden and eat of the forbidden fruit they opened the door for sin to enter this world changing it forever. The consequences of that moment in history are the hardships, the devastations, the struggles, and the tragedies that we all face in our lives. I know God did not give me the loss of a child to face but I know he did help me handle what I was given in this broken world. Though God does not cause all the hardships we face he can, however, use though moments to bring us closer to him and to show us his unconditional love.
In order for this saying to accurately reflect who God is and how we handle hardships the saying should be reworded. The correct version of this simple saying is, “God does not give us what we can handle, God helps us handle what we are given”. This represents the true character of God as well as the need we have for him in our lives.
We were never meant to journey through this life bearing our struggles alone. At the time of my first pregnancy, I had strayed from my relationship with God to say the very least. I knew God was real and he was important but he was not even on my priority list at that time of my life. The moment I realized something was wrong with our baby I began to pray. I began to seek God for his wisdom, his love, his miracles, his safety. I had been struggling through life for years on my own up until this point. That is when it became so clear to me that I could not make it through the devastation to come without God. Even though I felt so far from God and I did not seek any relationship with him he had never left me. He was there waiting for me to call out to him.
The moment I realized he never left me was the moment I realized despite the pain and the hurt I was feeling he did not cause this to happen to me or my baby. I knew God had not taken my baby away from me, I knew he was not testing me, he was not punishing me, he was not giving me consequences of not prioritizing him in my life. God is a good God who loves us and wants nothing but the best for us. His Word demonstrates his love and desire for us to be happy, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV). He is not out to seek revenge or punishment. He is not always giving us or allowing us struggles and heartbreak to test our faith.
God helped me handle what I was given and he continues to do so each day. As I began to grow closer to God the more I was able to see how he used what I was given to develop my purpose. I was able to see how the loss of our first child was giving me a purpose I never thought possible. I learned through our pain we can often find our purpose. I know the sweet little baby I carried but never got to hold saved me in more ways than one. God was able to use the loss of our baby and impact my life, my husband’s life, and his future sibling lives in ways I never could have imagined. I was able to reconnect with God and renew a relationship with him like never before. I was able to prioritize my life in a way that made finding my purpose so much clearer to me.
God was there for me guiding through this new found territory of unimaginable grief and sorrow. He was connecting me to people and community that would be essential to my healing and growing process. He used this time of grief leading me to connect with a community of women who have also lost a child(ren) to pregnancy and infant loss. He led me to share my story and my writing to help others find healing in their own journeys. He gave the pain of losing our Baby KW a purpose and an everlasting memorial through my writing.
He used this pain to humble me. He used the longing for a child of my own to give me the desire to spend as much time possible with the children I was blessed with after our loss. He reminds me to focus on loving our children even when the days are long and hard. He showed me to never take my children, their health, and our time together for granted. This pain allowed God to show me ways to love my children, develop a relationship with my children, and show them the true meaning of faith in ways that otherwise would not have been possible.
God was there using my husband as a tangible support system. Giving him the words to say to bring me comfort and hope. Creating a bond, a relationship, and a foundation for a marriage I am forever grateful for. God showed me how much faith my husband had in him and revealed how important his faith was to me as well. The hope instilled in the words my husband said to me was God’s way of assuring me in a time of the unknown, unbearable hurt, and fear of not being able to have a family of my own one day.
I know without a doubt I never could have made it through this part of my journey on my own. Though my husband, my family, and my pregnancy and infant loss community was an amazing support for me had I not had my newly refreshed relationship with God I know my life would have ended up on a much different and very difficult route. When you lose a child to pregnancy loss you feel alone, misunderstood, responsible, and the thought of moving forward is inconceivable. You would rather stay home, skip your daily routines, forget about your responsibilities, and you could easily sink into a deep, dark, depression. Had I not had God’s Word, His Hope, and His love reassuring me each day I am not sure I would have made it out of that dark time in my life.
God is always there for all of us. He is our source of love, strength, and hope. Even in the darkest and hardest of times, we can find peace through God and his unconditional love. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (ESV) When you feel like you have been given a difficult struggle or when life seems like it is too much too bear do not believe the lie that God has caused it or that you are not strong enough to handle it. The truth is God can help you through everything you face in life. You are strong enough through God to handle it all. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (ESV)