She never called in the early afternoon, so the moment her number appeared on caller ID, I knew something was wrong.
"Nicki, it's Mom."
Her voice was shaky. She was crying. There were long pauses between words. It was hard to make out anything she was saying, but the first understandable words I heard shook my world.
"I have ... breast cancer."
I sat down on the couch, numb from those four words. We spent the following few minutes talking about what this meant for her, her next steps and the long journey that was ahead.
Deep in my soul, I knew her life was about to take a drastic turn.
The next few months were hard — full of doctors' visits, surgery, chemo treatments and radiation. The way cancer affected my mom's body was difficult to watch. She lost her hair. Her skin became very thin, she became frail, and her mind fought its sanity.
One afternoon, I sat with my mom during one of her last chemo treatments. The room was cold. Nurses were overbooked with patients. And many family members paced the floor anxiously awaiting doctors to stop by. Watching my mom sleep in that chemo room was painful, and tears came to my eyes.
Cancer is hard.
I began to question God's goodness, His sovereignty, and His faithfulness.
In the midst of this frightening circumstance, a well-intended friend said, "God never gives us more than we can handle." Something about that phrase just didn't settle with me, so I went home and googled the phrase, looking for a verse to base it from.
The verse doesn't exist.
What does exist is God's promise to sustain us during difficult times.
"Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you" --Psalms 55:22
My mom couldn't handle cancer. Yet because she daily gave God her burden, He sustained her. It wasn't easy. The road was long. But today she proudly wears her survivor hat.
Maybe there is something in your life that you don't feel like you can handle. Maybe it's a job, a broken relationship, a sickness, or an unanswered prayer ... whatever it is, know that burdens of life are normal. There is nothing wrong with saying, "God, I can't handle this."
In fact, I believe it releases our desire for power over to Jesus and allows Him to be our strength.