July 22, 2010
I really don’t buy Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” or for that matter the often attributed but actually not Christian text, “God only gives you what you can handle.” It isn’t that these sayings might be helpful to some in times of difficultly. If thinking or believing one might become a better person or are a better person for sojourning days of unavoidable hurt and such belief gets one through painful times, I have a hard time knocking it. My fear is when one dies on the journey; others might choose to believe they just were not strong enough. And the theology that God would choose to make one suffer because one can handle it is questionable at best. However, there is appropriateness to acknowledging difficult situations come up in our lives and sometimes we get hurt—these events seldom make us stronger; but rather than a God giving us hurt as if it were a Christmas gift, a kind and gracious God is in the midst of our hurt helping us live through it.
But then again maybe God has a sense of humor and enjoys nudging us (or maybe it’s just me) a little. I began baling grass hay the other day and let’s say it didn’t go as smoothly as I would like. That’s to say the baler wasn’t baling. One or two bales would land out the back of the baler and then the next two or three would miss a tie and bust when they hit the ground. I’d take the baler in, adjust it, and head out to the field and try again. Only to watch bales come out the back in of the baler and fall apart, again. Now this occurred more than once and after a while, I started feeling like what came out the back end of the baler was the same as what comes out the back end of an animal after digesting the same hay going in the front end. After being taken to the brink of madness (I know, some would say that wasn’t too far of a trip.), the field got itself baled.
Come to think of it though, in hindsight, maybe I’m a little stronger for it! After all, the experience didn’t kill me! Yep, I think due to all that climbing on and off the tractor, walking to the baler, and making adjustments, walking back to the tractor, my legs are stronger! My stamina is buffer! My patience and resolve is tougher more resilient! In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all, now, that when I climb into the tractor cab and see baling twine, from all those busted bales, piled next to the seat I will think, “Yep, I am fortunate! God didn’t give me any more than I could handle!” Then again, maybe God just wants me to talk a little more with my neighbors and learn how to bale grass!