Periodic family updates seem to be of interest to readers, and it has been a while since I reported family news. So, after I pivot briefly to reflect on Memorial Day, I’ll turn to some recent highlights of a more personal nature and our transition to summer.
We lost a friend this week. It was a tragic yard accident. Norm was a veteran who very recently turned 82 years old. I can hardly stop thinking about the heartache of his family and their lack of opportunity to say those “good-bye-for-nows.” While they can rejoice with absolute assurance He is with Jesus, their sorrow and loss weigh heavily.
We rarely know the day or the hour. Even when we do, our hearts and minds resist the warning.
On Memorial Weekend, we honor veterans who have passed — whether in active duty or in some other way. We honor their families who shared the sacrifice too, especially when that involved long times apart or concerns about safety. In many cases, each heart bears the sting of multiple goodbyes, long before the final one.
As a mom to someone with disabilities, I’ve heard many people say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I wonder how many times veterans’ loved ones are told that as they wait for a returning solder or grieve one that will never return.
It’s an unfair and unbiblical statement.
The misunderstanding may come from applying 1 Corinthians 10:13 out of context:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
It is true that God won’t tempt us with more than we can handle. The promise of this verse is that God will always show us a way to avoid sin. The real issue behind that earlier statement is whether God will allow or send extreme circumstances into our lives that are beyond endurable. In the context of suffering that is not related to sin, God absolutely does allow (or even give) us more than we can handle, at times.
Clearly, life presents times of tremendous heartbreak or overwhelming adversity. Tragedies, losses, suffering, caregiving demands outside of our ability to fix or solve can seem impossible to handle. Jesus, himself, declared that suffering and disability are not about any person’s specific sin (see John 9:1-5). Sickness and death, the broadest sense, are about original sin (as in Adam and Eve) but not necessarily anyone’s personal sin.
RELATED: When Jesus Meets Disability by John Piper
In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, we get a sense of why God might give us more than we can handle. We can look to a time when Paul was so extremely hard-pressed that he couldn’t imagine living through it:
“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.”
Paul wanted others to learn what he had learned. He wanted it known that hope and endurance are possible. God wants us to learn from Paul that our best confidence comes from Christ alone and that our community of helpers (prayer warriors, most specifically) matter greatly.
It’s worth noting that getting rescued doesn’t always mean protected from death, as it did in this particular case with Paul. Answered prayers can look different than we expect. That’s a conversation for another day. For now, it is enough to say that Jesus’ ultimate rescue mission was to release us from condemnation and eternal death. He is most concerned with our souls. In the meantime, He will provide mercies to our circumstances through mysterious ways and timing. While we wait, and most important of all, He teaches us that we can trust God to get us through the slog.
Paul’s message was that we might, as a matter of fact, be given much more than we can handle so that we can discover confidence in Christ and the value of prayerful community. Even Paul had to get to the end of himself to discover the greatness of God and praying friends.
Our prayers for veterans and soldiers matter. Our prayers for their families matter.
My family fights a kind of battle every day. I do not intend to make comparison to the immense sacrifice our soldiers make at war, but I do want to underscore that suffering and sorrow demand an enormous faith, along with the help of praying friends. And sometimes that means a commitment over many years. For all of us.
No matter how many years have gone by since a veteran has passed, their loved ones still benefit from prayers. Your ongoing prayers for families battling heavy weights of caregiving, complex medical issues, or mental health issues matter too. My family knows this very well, and I want to thank you for praying for us, and others.
As you may know from recent blogs and updates, we have been in a season of extreme sleep deprivation, crisis staff shortage, and tedious medical issues with Carly. We have been desperate for more rest and wisdom on the home front while needing to hire a Ministry Assistant at Walk Right In Ministries (as Deb stepped back this spring to care for her own family).
We tried to recruit help throughout the winter until that process, too, became exhausting. Then we all had Covid in early May. We’ve been living at varying degrees of our wits end. Many times, we have cried out like Paul, “how will we live through this?”
Thankfully, I can report that Larry and I have each been experiencing fresh perspectives from God’s Word and learning new coping skills. I will not pretend it has been pretty, friends. This has been a messy season emotionally, logistically, spiritually, relationally. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “we’re not perfect but we’re making progress overall, by the grace of God.”
Prayers and community have been game changers. But the opportunity to lean into Jesus more intimately and intentionally shifts us from desperation back toward peace, joy and a rest in the soul.
Mercies in various forms have also come, temporary as some may be. In April and May, there was a disability conference, an extremely caring waitress, a long weekend in Canada’s Niagara area for my high school reunion, and a note with flowers that simply read, “You are not forgotten.”
Praise God we are fully staffed with caregiver support staff until early August (at which time we will be desperately recruiting again). Our daughter Erin will be visiting in early July. Our daughter Alex will be moving somewhere nearby soon (hoping the real estate market settles down for an optimal opportunity).
My imminent aim is to squeeze all the joy and rest out of this summer “honeymoon” with help that I can. I am working on a number of blog articles to queue up for a few weeks.
I am excited this season will include some terrific guest posts for you too. We have a line-up of contributors from the Walk Right In Ministries community including authors and leaders in the disability ministry arena who will be sharing. I know you’re going to enjoy hearing from them. Many of these esteemed folks are, like me, caregivers for loved ones with disabilities. Some even have disabilities themselves. Their expertise and perspectives are so valuable.
All of this will afford me some extra space to enjoy the treats (and chores) of summer and preparation for Jammin’ Pie Fest coming in the fall. That amazing event scheduled for the afternoon of October 2nd will be our first one back since before the pandemic in 2019.
Thank you for reading this far, for caring about us, and for praying for Walk Right In Ministries and the Jamieson family.
Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.
Amazing, heartfelt, and real blog as usual. God uses you in the “slog”. Thank you friends!