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Being Broken by God April 11, 2006

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Politics, Religion.

Lately, I’ve found myself in discussions where the following maxim is offered up as truth:

God won’t give us more than we can handle.

At best, this seems to be questionable theology. At worst, it strikes me as heresy.
Clay, Meet Potter
In the first four verses of the book of Jeremiah, the Bible gives a pretty clear explanation of God’s willingness to make us, break us, and then reform us, according to His will.

The Lord told me, “Go to the pottery shope, and when you get there, I will tell you what to say to the people.” I went there and saw the potter making clay pots on his pottery wheel. And whenever the clay would not take the shape he wanted, he would change his mind and form it into some other shape. …

The context of these verses is that Jeremiah had been trying vainly to get the people of Judah to heed the word of God. At God’s direction, he had been standing at the gate, calling the people to repentance. Here, God has directed Jeremiah to go and watch the potter, and infer the message that Jeremiah should give to the people.

“Is that a stiff neck, or are you being disobedient?”
Clearly, we can’t simply look at every pain or discomfort in our lives and declare that they are “God’s punishment.” On the other hand, there are clearly times that we must step back and look at our situation and ask, “God, am I where You want me to be?” or “Am I doing what You want me to do?”

Often, in my life, my struggles are a direct result of choices that I have made, or paths I have taken. In those times, stepping back yields a natural sense of submission to God and to His will. I am humbled, and my response reflects this.

But what of the other times? What of the times when my hands are busy doing His work, and my feet are taking me to places at His direction? How do I respond then?

Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Oddly enough, when I am busy doing “Godly things,” I am frequently the furthest from God’s will. This isn’t to say that God doesn’t want me teaching Bible study, going to church, or doing “good” things. However, if that were enough, why would Jesus have said the following to the Pharisees?

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Matthew 23:25-26 NIV

It seems that Jesus was more concerned about what was going on inside the Pharisees’ hearts, and not their actions. Isn’t it likely that He’s just as concerned about your heart and mine?

So if you feel that everything is crumbling around you, and your life is filled with chaos and disaster, take heart. It could be that God has picked up the clay of your life, and is even now reforming it into something useful, beautiful, and wonderful.

Then again, maybe God is punishing you for all those times you listened to Pat Robertson, and didn’t immediately change the channel.


1. notapundit - April 11, 2006

Recognize that being a Christian, living the faith, and being saved does not mean that one’s life will be free from sacrifice and suffering. In fact, it means quite the opposite.

Take Abraham. God knew Abraham to be a man of faith and love of God, when God asked him to sacrifice his son, but stopped Abraham before he did such an awful act. This tells us that God always requires a sacrifice as a show of faith and especially in forgiveness of our sins.

Christ our savior suffered tremendously. Our own God came to us in the flesh to suffer and die for our salvation. Christ asks us to leave earthly matters behind, pick up our Cross and follow him. I say, if God asks a sacrifice of you and places suffering upon you, then consider yourself blessed for God will put you through this because of His love for you and you will be transformed and blessed.

2. timthefoolman - April 12, 2006

I wasn’t trying to suggest that we should (or even could) be suffering-free. As you point out, the opposite is more consistent with my experience.

The question seems to be one of “why would God want there to be any suffering in my life?” In the case of Christ, there was a very clear benefit (for all) to his suffering. It wasn’t suffering for suffering’s sake (as if God takes joy in our pain).

Quite the contrary. God’s interest in our pain seems geared both toward our willingness to sacrifice (for the benefit of others, and to glorify Him), and to the value of us becoming truly dependent on Him.

As people, we seem to value our independence almost to the point of idolatry. If my suffering (for any reason) makes me more dependent on God, then in that I can find joy. – Tim

3. notapundit - April 12, 2006

Last night I read the Book of Job in its entirety. I came away from it having learned several things.

1) God permits evil to exist.
2) God permitted the evil against Job because he knew Job loved Him and would not curse Him.
3) In response to Job’s plea that he be allowed to see God and present his case to Him, God answers by referring to his own omniscience and almighty power, which has the effect of humbling Job once again and deepening the understanding of his suffering.
4) The lesson to be taken from Job is that we will suffer here in this life, but the suffering is a test of our fidelity to God.
5) Finally, we learn that we cannot comprehend the infinite mind and will of God, but we can only solve our problems and understand our sufferings through a deeper awareness of God’s power and love for us.

I am presently in the process of reading the entire Bible from cover to cover and it seems like providence that I should happen to read it last night as I happened to come across your post.

Peace be with you.

4. timthefoolman - April 12, 2006

Job is a fabulous book. My favorite moments are when his three friends actually do the right thing, and sit quietly in sympathy (that is, before they open their mouths); and then when God asks him point blank “Did I ask you for advice when I was setting the foundations of the universe?”

The notion of us, the created beings, questioning the wisdom of the creator for making sovereign choices… I can almost hear God’s voice sounding like John McEnro “You can NOT be serious!”

Thanks again – Tim

5. richardmcchurch - April 17, 2006

Good post — I am learning and learning from you. Thanks.

6. timthefoolman - April 18, 2006

Thank you! However, if there’s learning going on, my guess is that God is the one you’re learning from. 😉

7. clymmer - April 24, 2007

Another book you’ll want to study when it comes to this subject is the book of Habakkuk. Job-like in that it’s a record of conversation between a man and God. It’s a bit more digestable at only 3 chapters in length compared to Job (not taking anything away from Job, mind you).

Here’s a sermon on it: http://my.opera.com/clym/blog/recklessly-abandoned-faith

This also reminds me of a quote that I heard on the radio recently that was attributed to Charles Spurgeon: “If God will not change the place for the better, then he’ll change us to be better in the place.”

Good words of grace & hope there,


8. Christy - December 31, 2007

I found “A Tale of Three Kings” by Gene Edwards to be a good book on brokenness and God giving you more than you can handle. I have been given more adversity than the average person has to bear in life, to the point in which I came to despise the saying “God won’t give us more than we can handle” Yes, God can and Yes, I couldn’t handle it! But thanks to Gene’s book it gave me a great deal of comfort and an ability to look at my suffering and appreciate the brokenness for my own good from God. I recommend it for anyone struggling with their own pain and suffering.

9. Tim - December 31, 2007


I just now got around to spotting your comment, and I fully agree about Habakkuk. I have not studied it nearly enough given some of the thought-provoking and soul-searching lessons there. Thanks for the reminder, and for the sermon link.


Wow… what a wonderful perspective on the struggles you’ve experienced. Thanks for the book recommendation. It sounds like something right up my alley. – Tim

10. busayo oladapo - May 30, 2009

how can i recieve the giftof the holy spirit? if a believer does not speak in tongue is he/she not genuine

Mark Obatolu - June 18, 2010

Hello Busayo,

Considering you dropped your comment more than a year ago. I hope you have received the Holy Spirit by now as you desired.

Just in case, to receive the gift and the infilling of the Holy Spirit is easy. Like everything else in Christianity you accept Him by faith. If you read the scripture Luke 11:9-11 , Jesus made it clear God will give us the Holy Spirit when we ask. So, you simply close your eyes in prayer and ask the Father for the Holy Spirit. You then receive Him by faith with thanksgiving in your heart to God. In other words, after praying, believe He has come into you. The alternative is to get a believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit to lay hands on you to receive the Holy Spirit.

With regards, to speaking in tongues. Yes a believer is still genuine whether they speak in tongues or not. But it is to a believer’s personal advantage to speak in tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:7 [AMP] states: But to each one is given the manifestation of the [Holy] Spirit [the evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Spirit] for good and profit. 1 Corinthians 14: 4 AMP states “He who speaks in a [strange] tongue edifies and improves himself, but he who prophesies [[c]interpreting the divine will and purpose and teaching with inspiration] edifies and improves the church and promotes growth [in Christian wisdom, piety, holiness, and happiness].” Jude 1:20 also resonates the same message.

So speaking in tongues is good for you!

Tim W - September 1, 2012

I know its been over 3 years since you posted the question ‘How can I receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ghost)? Being that its three years later youve either received it or not. Either the real, genuine Holy Ghost or a counterfeit. It’s not as easy as some would think and lead others to believe… of course it all depends on the individual and their faith. One must seek God for the Holy Ghost and must be sanctified (seperated, set apart from the world). The Holy Ghost won’t be received at a whim but thru much perseverence on your part. Unlike salvation, when one receives the (Holy Spirit) there is the forgiveness of sins and gets your name in the book of life. The Holy Ghost is power to overcome and power whereby God can use you more readily by giving you other gifts such as healing, prophecy,discernment, etc. If you havent gotten it yet, evidenced by speaking in tongues (not optional) then seek for it, is a gift well worth travailing for. God bless.

11. stella - June 21, 2012

How do u become broken

Tim W - September 1, 2012

Simple… ask God.

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