Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

Pray for Nashville: 6 Killed in Mass Shooting at Christian School

When Life Gives You Too Much

Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed with life? Felt like you were struggling just to keep your nose above water and keep breathing? Thought you simply couldn't continue putting one foot ahead of the other?

Maybe you were shattered by adultery. Perhaps the pain of infertility was ripping your heart into pieces. The death of a spouse. Losing a parent. The inconceivable pain of losing a child.

I don't know what your too much is. I've had seasons of life that were too much. The first Sunday after I learned of my now ex-husband's affair was too much. I was in a strange church, my face hiding providing a facade to the shattered pieces within me, with a man beside me who was the cause of my pain. I worried everyone in that place would see the brokenness inside of me. I wanted to slip in and slip out without speaking to anyone.

When the pastor got up to speak, his topic was so appropriate: You Can't Handle It! Instead of telling me God will never give me more than I can handle, the pastor gently reminded me that this life indeed does give us too much. Why?

Because God never intended for us to handle this life on our own. 

Our community has been hit hard over the last few months. We've had multiple families lose parents to Covid and cancer. Young families facing the unexpected, the fears of suddenly becoming single parents. Watching as their hopes and dreams are derailed. Surviving spouses trying to stay strong for the sake of their kids.

I know what it is to watch your kids struggle with grief when a parent dies young and dies unexpectedly. The grief is complicated. These kids have to grieve at every stage of life, coming to grips with the reality of their loss as they move through each stage of maturity.

Or the loss of a child. Can I just tell you how my heart breaks for those who lose a child? My kids were my saving grace. They were my reason to live. I'm not sure what I would have done if I had lost a child. It truly is my biggest fear.

But that's the reality of a couple of my friends. One lost her son to murder; one lost her daughter in a car accident. How do you get out of bed in the morning when a piece of you has died? How do you move forward when the grief is simply too much?

As I've contemplated the issue of too much this week, I thought about Mary and Joseph. I know we can't fully comprehend the weight of Mary's pregnancy because our culture is so different. But Mary knew she could be put to death for being pregnant out of wedlock. She knew her fiancé, Joseph, could choose to publicly humiliate her. She knew she could be left alone with no way to provide for herself or her child. She was facing too much.

And how did she handle it? I think her response gives us some great ideas on how to handle life when we are faced with too much.

She accepted the journey God gave her. After the angel announced to Mary she would be with child, Mary said, "May it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). I know Mary's too much may be different than ours, but it was still her too much. Yet, despite the fear and the unknowns and the pain of her future, she trusted in God's words to her. She accepted the journey He planned out for her and walked confidently forward knowing He would be with her every step of the way.

What is your too much God is promising to carry you through? For me, the too much was losing my marriage, my ministry, my hopes and dreams. God didn't cause it, but He did allow it in my life. I wanted to fight and scream and blame Him. But, when I humbly fell to my knees in surrender and accepted the journey, God began to show up and show off.

We could learn so much from following Mary's example of humble acceptance of our too much.

She sang praises to God. Mary sang out:

Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. Luke 1:46-49

I attended the funeral for the young lady who lost her life in a car accident. The family had chosen to sing Raise a Hallelujah because it was their daughter's favorite song. As the praise team sang, her family began to stand to their feet, hands lifted high in praise to the Father--the very one who had allowed their daughter's life to end way too soon. In the midst of their too much, they chose to worship the One who had given His life. They chose to live out their faith, even in the midst of their pain. They let the power of their praise overcome this life!

And that is such a powerful lesson for us. Somehow, when we praise, we come into the presence of the One who is near the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18). We come near to the One who wants to heal our pain and carry our too much.

She held tightly to what she saw and heard. After the shepherds came to find the baby Jesus, scripture tells us Mary "treasured all these things in her heart" (Luke 2:19). She had seen an angel. She had interacted with her cousin Elizabeth who was bearing a child in her old age. She heard the reports of the shepherds who reported a multitude of angels. Everywhere she turned, she saw and heard reports of God's goodness, and she chose to hold tightly to every reminder of His calling on her life. Those reminders I am certain got her through many days when the too much seemed unbearable.

What reminders do you have to cling to in your too much? Did you clearly hear God calling you out of your comfort zone before too much hit? Have you seen Him provide in the midst of your too much? Have you felt His perfect peace overwhelm you in moments when you thought you would collapse under the weight of the too much? Have you received the perfect word of encouragement at the exact right moment to carry you through your too much? We have to keep our eyes open to see and hear all those little things God gives in the midst of our too much. I know if we can quiet our hearts and souls just a little, surrender to His journey, He will provide those moments.

What's your too much? Can I simply tell you that our God is the God of too much? He never meant for us to carry our too much; instead, He asks us to cast it all on Him.

As we move into this beautiful season where we celebrate our Savior, let's give Him our too much. Let's trust Him to make something incredible out of our pain. Let's follow the example of Mary and walk closely with Him.