“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” Romans 15:10
“I just need to vent.” It’s a phrase most of us have uttered at some point as an excuse to throw a massive pity party. And while there’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help when I need it, that’s not really why I’m doing it. I’m doing it because I want someone to feel sorry for me, pat me on the back, and give me a generic pep talk that feeds my ego. And a lot of times, my friends deliver.
I was listening to this same-old “you-can-do-it” pep talk when someone said a phrase many of us have heard before from well-intentioned Christians, “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle”. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “That’s not true.”
Because it’s not. I can’t handle the temptations in my life, which is why I sin all the time. I can’t handle the pain in life, which is why I find myself missing people who should be sending me Christmas cards this year but passed away too soon. I can’t handle the loneliness, the failure, the sickness, and the worry.
But God doesn’t promise there will never be a moment I can’t handle. He promises there will never be a moment He can’t handle. In Romans 15, Paul is speaking of God’s mercy when he says in verse 10, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”. In common English? “Hey you outsider, you loser, you weakling, you hurting: Rejoice.” Because God came for the weak, the hurting, and the outsiders.
That’s what mercy is. It’s a confession that we can’t handle this, but that it’s all going to turn out anyways. Because we know who can handle this – and He’s coming soon. The next time you need to vent, turn your eyes to the manger instead, and pray with me:
God, teach me to rejoice. When I’m hopeless, turn my eyes to hope incarnate: Your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Contributed by Hannah Hayden