Running on Empty

You know that phrase, “God never gives you more than you can handle” ? I am going to go on record and say, Bullcrap. That is not true. 

Looking back at my life I can see times when all of my reserves have been full. I have had a lot of margin in my life: lots of stored up energy, an overabundance of grace and peace. And then there have been times when I have been completely drained dry, nothing left to give. I would compare those times to kind of like putting $5 of gas in your tank every day and then having to commute to work and run to the store, and every night, the tank is empty and you wonder if you can make it to the gas station with what you’ve got left the next morning. And you hope you can dig up another $5 for the next day. 

Sometimes God throws jobs and challenges at us that are more than we can handle. 

Giving birth to ten children within a sixteen year stretch of time, was more than I could handle. Raising ten kids was more than I could handle. Having various homeless families and couples live with us over the years was more than I could handle. Taking in foster kids was more than I could handle. 

I find myself in a place now, where the phrase, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” really means something to me. I am in daily need of sustenance. Daily. Yesterday’s bread is gone and used up. I need more today. The phrase “My grace is sufficient for you..” has heavy meaning. Sufficient means enough, adequate. Note, it does not mean overflowing abundance. It’s just the right amount, none left over. Each day I need a new dose of that grace. 

I have learned what living on empty means. It’s kind of like doing math all day. Here, you get 10 units this morning. Dealing with that conflict subtracts 3 units, running errands subtracts 2 units, stressing about bills? Minus 2. If we run out of units, then we shut down the day. Turn on the tv, take a short nap, go get pizza for supper…There’s some addition going on as well. Read your Bible in the morning? Add on 3 units. Shut the door to my room and do something peaceful and solitary for fifteen minutes, Plus 2. 

And each night, I collapse into bed. Not dead. Haven’t completely failed at life yet. We’re still taking steps forward. The daily bread was provided. The grace proved to be sufficient. 

God is still on his throne, and his hand is still upon me. And I will sleep and do it all again tomorrow, leaning  heavily on my God. 

And I pray that somehow my life will bring glory to God. That somehow this season of desperation is also a season of great fruit, a season of big growth, a season of close intimacy with God. 

And I realize that despite the fact that I am living on the edge, it can still be a place of peace. Today my bible reading was in John 16. Verse 33 stood out to me,

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

This old hymn comes to mind…

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Alan Jackson

What a fellowship, what a joy divine

Leaning on the everlasting arms

What a blessedness, what a peace is mine

Leaning on the everlasting arms

Leaning, leaning

Safe and secure from all alarms

Leaning, leaning

Leaning on the everlasting arms

What have I to dread, what have I to fear

Leaning on the everlasting arms?

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near

Leaning on the everlasting arms

Leaning, leaning

Safe and secure from all alarms

Leaning, leaning

Leaning on the everlasting arms

2 thoughts on “Running on Empty

  1. Hi, Esther. I truly understand what you are saying, because I have had my share of crises and challenges. I have seen a lot of memes lately expressing the same sentiment as you did – the idea that God doesn’t give more than we can handle is crap. However, it is Biblical, and throwing it out as dung on the basis of personal experience may be a popular notion, but it is a false one as well.
    The Bible is clear – we can do nothing without Him. However, with Him we can do anything. 1 Cor. 10:13 says He won’t allow anything to come against above or beyond what we are able because He will with it make a way to escape *so that you may be able to bear it.*
    So, yes, there are a lot of things in life we can’t handle in our own strength. If you look at the failure of society as a whole, especially right now in our culture, we can’t handle life itself in our own strength. And, that’s the point of the Old Testament, and why God made a New Covenant with us through Jesus. In Him, we *can* do all things. He gives us the strength. He saw you through everything with 10 kids grace, homeless house guests grace, foster children grace, bills grace, and more because as you said, His grace is sufficient.
    So if we thoughtlessly tell someone they shouldn’t feel bad because God wouldn’t give them anything they can’t handle, then we are being cold, insensitive, and misleading – because we aren’t finishing the story. However, God says He won’t give us more than we can handle but in His great, lavish grace will give us everything we need to get through it.
    If by chance there is something, some situation that you cannot experience His grace in a way that will get you through, then you can be at peace knowing you will never have to face it. In every situation, no matter how grave, that you do face, you have in that very situation God’s promise that He has the grace and the way for you to bear it and come through it to victory in Him.
    My feelings won’t be hurt if you don’t post this, or if you delete it, or even if you disagree. This is something that’s been on my heart for many years as I have at times felt the same way, and heard others say the same. I just wanted to share with you what I’ve found to be a great comfort and strength through the years.


    1. I think we are saying the same thing. It’s mostly semantics. God will never give you more than YOU can handle. False. We face a lot of things that we can’t handle. But, God has promised to never leave us or forsake us and he has said that HIS grace is sufficient and HIS power is made perfect in our weakness. And so, with him, we can do ALL things. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!


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