Our closets came with wire closet shelving sections mounted to angled support rods firmly fastened into sheetrock anchors. The entire system represents a challenge, like a game, where one adds items until the shelf collapses and the game ends. The home center offers handy brochures along with the shelving to explain all the options and the proper way to mount the units. Specified in easy to read language is their maximum load rating. Pile more stuff onto the shelf than it was designed to hold and likely one or more of the supports will buckle usually because the sheetrock anchors didn’t hold.

On a fateful day in the past I arrived home to find that Shawn had encountered a problem with one of the shelves in the master closet. That closet had large sections of wire shelving on each of the north, west, and south walls. She had been swapping clothes, organizing shoes, and in general compressing my share of the closet into a smaller portion to accommodate her need for more space. Along the journey she had added a considerable amount of clothing to the north shelf which pulled loose from its supports and rested at a precarious angle against the west shelf.

As any competent engineer might do I surveyed the damage and pronounced my professional diagnosis, “That shelf sure is broken!” I set out to remove the weight from the shelf by lifting large bundles of hanging clothes from the tottering structure and passing them out to Shawn. As I lifted my second such bundle several loud pops boomed as the remaining shelves on the west and south walls let go in unison and tumbled. All those shoes and boxes, purses, belts, scarves, hats, and hundreds of pounds of clothing dumped earthward…onto me. I was crushed to the floor with a single hand stretching above the flood.

“Help me!”

No response.

Where was Shawn? I dug my way out to find her on her knees, doubled over. Had she been injured? No. She was laughing so hard she could not breathe, her face streaked with tears. OK, it is too bad we did not have a phone with a built-in camera back then. We can only chuckle at the memory while the rest of you use your imaginations to recreate the scene. I survived in case you were wondering.

I tossed the wire shelves in favor of a custom solution I designed, built, and installed using galvanized pipe. Shawn’s closet space doubled, and the new assembly is securely anchored into the structure of the house.

My preferred shelving solution.

When I did the makeover in Shawn’s studio I used this type of shelving in the closet.

Loads. We all carry some level of stress and adversity. Some more than others. And the amount fluctuates over time. During the biggest struggles, when we feel crushed to the point of struggling to breathe, who among us has not run into that well-meaning believer who states authoritatively: “God will not put more on you than you can handle!”

That statement belongs in the deli section at the store with all the other baloney! Nowhere in my Bible is that taught or even hinted at. God often puts more on us than we can handle. We’ll get to the why in a moment but for starters consider the testimony of the Apostle Paul.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 NASB

Burdened excessively. Beyond our strength. Despaired of life. Sounds like Paul would also stand to refute that earlier well-meaning but inaccurate statement. Paul had exhausted his human resources, reached the end of his ability to plan around and work through the tough parts, and saw but a single option: “so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God…”

Yes, God does place us in situations where the load overwhelms us. We reach our limits, and we need help, His help. Those humanly-helpless situations build our faith stronger and drive our roots deeper into the limitless power of God. David, king and psalmist, left these words for our encouragement.

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
Psalms 55:22 NASB

Current events may be pressing us to despair but we can have confidence that God will hold us up and sustain us. Keep looking up!