God won’t give you more than you can handle. Are we going to say that to Job who lost everything?  Or the teenager being trafficked in Thailand? Or a victim’s husband in Nazi Germany? The Bible says, “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (I Cor. 10:13). It is dealing with sin, not suffering. If you tell someone that God won’t give her more than she can handle, and she is not handling it, there is something wrong with her. No, there is something wrong with you. Never say it.

This is a bad time for this to happen. And what would have been a good time, when you’re driving around the block just to kill time? When my car failed to start recently, I remembered times when I thought, “Bad timing.” I decided that was stupid, so I said instead, “God, this is a good time for this to happen.” Didn’t fix the car, did fix the attitude.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Hey, if it’s worth doing, just do it. Don’t attach a condition. Too many perfectionists back down because they can’t do it just right. Let them off the hook. Lower the standard so they can relax and do something mediocre.

I don’t deserve this. Oh, really. You’ve chosen the merit system rather than the mercy system. Good luck. Getting what you deserve is not close to good. Like the lady who slapped the photo down on the counter and said, “This picture does not do me justice.” To which the clerk said, “Ma’am, you don’t want justice—you want mercy.” Me too.

Why did this happen to me? I can understand why you might say this. Think it through. How about Harvey next door? Or your pastor? If we agree that bad things happen to good people and “in the world you will have tribulation,” as Jesus said, then we’re learning that missing a plane or denting the car or losing a job might happen to good people like you.

No one’s perfect. We all make mistakes. So does that let you off the hook? Sounds like somebody may be running from conviction. Is it that uncomfortable that we would rather say something stupid than deal with the problem?  Let’s ‘fess up’ and acknowledge irresponsibility.

If you do that one more time… Really? Has it been seventy times seven already? Do you sit on the Supreme Court? Does your verdict stick? Has your great virtue finally reached the end of its toleration point? Just be thankful that God doesn’t say to you, “If you do that one more time…” If He says it, duck!

This weather is terrible. And who is over the weather? Are you judging the weather guy or the God of the universe?  In reality, nature is in a bad mood as a result of the fall (Rom. 8:19-22), as Larry Osborne, a good writer, likes to say, and some weather truly is bad, like tornadoes and hurricanes. They won’t continue in the new earth, when “mother” nature is released from her depression.

It’s going around. Then is it coming around? Are you its next victim? Of all the luck. Someone said something somewhere about living by faith. That’s close in the dictionary to fate—but a long way off. Don’t take in every stray cat, or every stray germ or stray thought. Take ‘em captive to Christ. Let’s try believing God and overcoming! Hey, not a bad idea.

Lesson:  Don’t believe everything you think—and don’t say it either!


That’s what I heard from a struggling teen. Her mom tried suicide. I stopped the girl and said, “There’s not a reason for everything, at least not a good one. Your mom should not have done that.” The difficulty with the statement—it implicates God.

Another problem—it overlooks Satan. He gets his licks in, and not recognizing his presence could sound like they play on the same team.

A third difficulty is overlooking the world’s brokenness and the fallout created. People contract cancer because of unhealthy fumes. Blame progress. Those who say “there’s a reason for everything” are not prepared to point the finger at toxic waste. They suspect that God is engineering disease to “teach us an important lesson.” So He threatens to take our mother out. You might obey a monster but you wouldn’t love one.

The truth in the midst of this madness is that “all things do work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” But don’t jump from “work for good” to “are good.” Don’t call attempted suicide or crib death good.

Those who call things like this good by fitting them into the cosmic plan are fatalists, not people of faith. It sounds suspiciously close to “whatever will be will be,” not remotely close to orthodox Christianity. It discounts sin, Satan, cause and effect, and a fallen race in one pathetic phrase.

“There’s a reason for everything” theology makes a ridiculous learning game out of life:

“I ran over my cat this morning backing out. Not sure what God is teaching me.” (Hey, honey. Slow down. Sorry about the cat.)

“I went with the abortion. I feel terrible, but there’s a reason for everything.” (No. Don’t bring God into your mistake. You should have brought him in before.)

“We prayed for him to be healed, but God took him. Whatever will be will be.” So are we saying that prayer remains a hopeless exercise against the ironclad will of the Almighty? Somewhere I read that He is moved by the prayers of the righteous. Do our statements give God an out to do whatever He chooses? Or do they let us off the hook so unwise decisions morph into the will of God. That reduces prayer to wishful thinking and faith to a whim.

My daughter Karis as a preteen said, “You know how people say, ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ Everything doesn’t happen for a reason, because you could make something happen yourself. If you eat too much ice cream, you get a stomach ache.” She concluded, “There are good reasons for things happening and bad reasons.”

Karis didn’t know it, but she was tussling with divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Her conclusion:

  1. Not everything that happens is good. Like Larry Osborne said in Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe that the fall of humanity messed things up. Nature is in a bad mood, and cause and effect mean bad effects for bad causes.
  2. God isn’t the cause behind stupid or sinful things.
  3. God can overturn evil with good.

I recently heard a great statement: “Don’t believe everything you think.” If you think that there’s a reason for everything, have a different thought.

We see the cross before we experience the resurrection. And to “survey the wondrous cross” means to see a suffering God, not one coming up with obscure lessons to teach confused kids. God enters into our sorrow rather than placating us with answers. Better than an explanation to a girl whose mother almost ended it all is the quiet presence of the One who feels her tragedy—and doesn’t explain things for a while. But, “I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” That kind of God can be trusted.