The opening lines from Episcopal priest Ian Punnett’s op-ed on CNN’s Belief Blog:
“God never gives us more than we can handle.”
God, have I learned to hate that cliche.
As a clergy person, as a hospital chaplain intern and as a father, I
have come to believe that, at best, that platitude is a classic
example of meaningless bumper-sticker theology. It’s easily said and
only makes sense when it goes by you so fast you don’t have time to
think about it.
At worst, however, claiming that God scales a tragedy up or down
depending on our ability to handle loss is as heartless as it is
Rachel Held Evans also writes on “deserved theology” upon observing predictable reaction:
This abusive, shame-based theology that responds to disaster, abuse, and pain with calloused flippancy at best and perpetuation at worst, all because suffering is what people “deserve” anyway, has gained far too much ground within evangelicalism. It’s hurting our witness. It’s hurting the cause of Christ. It’s hurting innocent children.
But more often than not, those of us who express concern are encouraged to quiet down and make nice in the name of Christian unity. This is a mere theological difference, we are told. If the world sees us disagreeing with one another, it will hurt our witness.
I disagree, and in the strongest of terms.
This type of thinking permeates not only in outlandish statements that some public figures make, but dangerously in subtle remarks by people trying to cope. Consider this that accompanies a video on The Huffington Post:
The 41-second clip shows a man, whose voice can be heard offscreen, climbing a set of stairs and lifting the hatch of the storm cellar where he and his family had sought shelter. The camera then pans across the debris-strewn landscape. “The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away,” he remarks.