If feeling stressed isn't bad enough, it's worsened by the guilt of not being able to handle your issues because, after all, God wouldn't give you more than you can handle, right? Wrong!
God does give us more than we can handle...and for good reasons.
Read 1 Kings 19:1-18 Notice what happened after Elijah awakened (v 6-7). He found baked bread & water. He consumed what he needed & then slept again, only to have the angel re-awaken him w/ a surprising message. “Get up & eat, for the journey is too much for you.”
“TOO MUCH FOR YOU” …those words caught me off guard. I’ve heard many a well-meaning Christian try to comfort others by saying, “Don’t worry, God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Others reference partial verses like Romans 8:37 (In all things we are more than conquerors…) or the first half of 1 Corinthians 10:13 (He [God] will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear) while ignoring the last portion of that verse. But if God does not give us more than we can handle, how could Elijah’s journey have been too much for him?
As I re-read 1 Kings 19 (in various Bible versions), it suddenly struck me that God’s directive for Elijah WOULD have been too much for him IF GOD HAD NOT PROVIDED, through an angel & God’s protection, what Elijah needed. The truth is that God DOES give us more than we can handle, & HE is the One who provides a way out for us! God was working mightily to STRENGTHEN & TEACH Elijah. He did this in order to DEVELOP Elijah’s FAITH in God & to ENLARGE his TRUST in God’s never-failing goodness & grace. God is our ever-present help in times of trouble.
Continue reading the story. It gets worse before it gets better, but it’s all the more wonderfully revealing about how God works.
Once Elijah was awakened from his 2nd sleep, he ate & drank again, & then traveled 40 days & 40 nights. A long journey! Next, (v 9-14) he heard the word of the LORD telling him to go out & stand on the mountain so that he would again be instructed by God. HUH? Why didn’t the Lord just tell Elijah everything he wanted to know instead of having Elijah move again to a higher location? Was God hoping that Elijah would believe w/o a doubt that he was hearing God speak? I think so…& that is why I love this story. This story models how God often leads us.
Think for a minute about your life: Was there ever a time when you found yourself in an awful predicament, so upset that you wanted to run away or just die? I know I have. And when I was in similar situations, that was when the mighty hand of God moved me, just like He moved Elijah. Where did He move me? Closer to Him (aka a higher place; a mountain top). And what did God do as He was moving me? He provided for me…provision & direction while the nightmares of my life ensued! Why? To prove that HE COULD and HE WOULD take care of me! Yes, the tough situations were too much for me ALONE, but they were not too much for God & me together. Like Elijah, I had things to learn & my faith had to be strengthened.
God allowed Elijah to feel that the journey was too much for him (too much for Elijah ALONE), but it was not too much for Elijah & God TOGETHER! God provided rest, food, & water for Elijah. God did that twice in this story; it must be significant! Then in verse 11, God directed Elijah to get closer to Him by telling Elijah to “stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Even while God is moving Elijah closer to Himself, does Elijah hear God’s full set of directions immediately? No, God directed Elijah little by little. That reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:11 “Give us TODAY our DAILY bread” (emphasis mine). God provides for us day by day. And God’s voice was not in the wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire. Where was it? It was in a still small voice(KJV). (NOTE: NIV says “a gentle whisper.”)
I love that! God spoke to Elijah through an angel, then He gave Elijah partial information through the word of the LORD, & then finally when Elijah was ready, God told Elijah exactly what he needed to know to move forward with his life, all the time providing for Elijah. Magnificent! God’s still small voice; God’s perfect timing; God’s provision!