I felt sure there had to be some sort of awful mistake. I had no family history of breast cancer. I am young(ish) and healthy. And I was already walking through an incredibly hard season in my marriage that was making life feel impossibly heavy.
Yet there I was, sitting in a pink chair wondering what you’re supposed to do after you get a cancer diagnosis.
I kept thinking about that statement everyone loves to throw out in times like these: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” But that’s not actually in the Bible.
God does say He won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear and that He always provides a way out. (1 Corinthians 10:13) But that’s not the same as God not giving us more than we can handle.
God didn’t cause this. But He was allowing it. And He sometimes will allow more and more.
As I type these words, I know I’m not the only one who feels they’ve been given more than they can handle.
The world is filled with people who are dealt more than they can handle. And, surprisingly, so is the Bible.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
For we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8–9).
No, God doesn’t expect us to handle this. He wants us to hand this over to Him.
He doesn’t want us to rally more of our own strength. He wants us to rely solely on His strength.
If we keep walking around, thinking that God won’t give us more than we can handle, we set ourselves up to be suspicious of God. We know we are facing things that are too much for us.
After my diagnosis, I had some really difficult days. I needed God to show me His perspective so I could set my perspective. But it didn’t come right away. And that frustrated me. I was filled with fear and questions like, Why this? Why now? Why me?
The story I started telling myself was that life would never get any better.
But thinking about everything I didn’t know wasn’t getting me anywhere. So, I started listing things I did know. And the main thing I know? I know God is good. I didn’t know the details of God’s good plan, but I could make His goodness the starting place to renew my perspective.
So now let me tell the story of the recent events in my life using God’s goodness as the central theme. Had things not blown up in my marriage a few months beforehand, I never would have hit the pause button on life to go get a mammogram. But because I had a mammogram at that exact time, the doctors caught a cancer that needed to be caught. And because they caught a cancer that needed to be caught, I had every fighting chance to beat this cancer.
You see, we’re all living out a story, but then there’s the story we tell ourselves. We just need to make sure we’re telling ourselves the right story. Yes, God will give us more than we can handle. But He always has eventual good in mind.
We don’t have to like it, but maybe knowing this can help us live through it.