Have you ever thought to yourself, I just can’t handle this?
We throw around the phrase, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” often in christian circles. There’s only one problem. I don’t buy it. I often feel overwhelmed and lacking in wisdom and wondering how in the world I’m going to get through something. I think God frequently gives me more than I can handle. But that’s the point.
If God never gave us more than we could handle, we would never see Him work on our behalf. We would never see His supernatural power in our lives.
When we last saw Elijah, he was at the brook enjoying God’s care and provision. He was tired and depressed and generally having the worst day of his life. And God takes care of him, loves him, feeds him. But he doesn’t just leave him there. Oh no. At some point, it was time for Elijah to get up and back to work. He needed a vacation by the water, but he wasn’t called to live in vacation mode. So God does something amazing. When Elijah was at his very end, when he could no longer handle the circumstances in his life, when God had given him more than he could handle, that’s when God went to work and started to show off.
“And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.” I Kings 19:7-8
Just two little verses. Describing what starts out as an ordinary day. He woke up, ate and drank. Just normal. And I love what the angel says to him. It’s too great for thee. It’s like he said, “Listen, God is about to give you more than you can handle on your own. But don’t worry. God’s about to do a supernatural work here, and you’re going to make it.”
Elijah then walks for 40 days in the strength of that meal. Supernatural strength from a miracle working God.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve hiked and climbed mountains - ok, one mountain, but it still counts - and it leaves me starving. After about two hours. When I was climbing that mountain, I started making a list of all the foods I was going to eat when I got down. It was extensive. As though I had been away from all my favourite foods for months, instead of eight hours.
But Elijah doesn’t have to eat again for 40 days. A little show of God’s supernatural strength tucked right into verse 8.
So why is this one little detail in the story of Elijah important?
Because it comes just as he was done with life. When he had reached the end of his rope. When he had no strength left in himself. Elijah could do nothing but run away and sleep by the brook. God had to send an angel just to keep him alive. And after He takes care of Elijah, he starts imparting His own strength.
Elijah never needed his own strength. Supernatural power was always available to him. He remembered it up on the mountain. In the middle of the great battle with the prophets of Baal, he called on God’s supernatural strength and saw miracles done.
But he forgot in the valley.
And God gently took care of him, reminded him, gave him power, and then sent him to the mountain. He has a few lessons left to teach Elijah, but for now, God is just showing Elijah how powerful one meal from God is. Reminding him of what he knew on the mountain, but forgot in the valley.
That God will always give us more than we can handle. Because it’s then that He gets to show up. That we realize how much we needed Him all along. That supernatural strength doesn’t come from us, but is available to us. Always.