A Gather Story: Rachel Barkman


Rachel Barkman (pictured above) is a wedding and travel photographer based in Vancouver, BC who seeks to build community and glorify Jesus through her images and adventures. 

Rachel Barkman (pictured above) is a wedding and travel photographer based in Vancouver, BC who seeks to build community and glorify Jesus through her images and adventures. 



We’ve all heard the words. We’ve heard them whispered, proclaimed, and written as the tagline of sympathy cards. When the storms come, when the waves rise, out they come to comfort us.

“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

They mean well, I know they do. No one utters these words maliciously. They’re meant to encourage, they’re meant to bring hope. I’m not here to mock these words. I’m here to tell you they’re a well-meaning lie. A falsehood. These words shouldn’t comfort you. Before you get angry with me, give me a moment to explain.

At 19, I suffered a career-ending injury that cost me a scholarship and a spot on my university basketball team. A few months later, I lost a man I loved dearly in a car accident when he fell asleep at the wheel. Then I lost another friend to cancer. Then another friend to yet another car accident. I struggled with depression, anxiety, and food addiction. My health suffered and spiralled until I was eventually diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease. Every time I thought I had finally reached solid ground, it began to crumble around me all over again. I learned very quickly that God indeed does sometimes give us more than we can handle, and it’s something I am extremely grateful for.

God’s word never tells us that we will only be given what we can handle. Jesus doesn’t come to tell us that he’ll take it easy on us. He comes to tell us that even though we may be weary and heavy burdened, we need only to come to him and he will give us rest (Matt. 11:28-30). He tells us that we will have many trials and sorrows, but to take heart, for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Jesus doesn’t ask us to follow him so that we can live a peaceful, trouble-free life. He beckons us to come, pick up our cross, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). And here is one of my favourite things about Jesus - He isn’t just a man of words, he’s a man of action. He leads the way. He shows us exactly what it’s like in all it’s horrific, gory, painful detail. If anyone knows suffering, it’s Christ.

Over and over again in my life, I’ve been handed more than I can handle. I’ve collapsed in on myself. I’ve hit rock bottom and felt hopelessness and despair that has left me numb. If I’d never experienced these depths of despair, I’m not sure I would have ever fully realized my deep, significant, life-altering need for Jesus. If I could always handle everything on my own, I would never have recognized how much my life required a Savior. The truth is that each trial I walked through has pointed me back to the feet of Jesus, where I have wept and brought him my hurt and asked him to take it from me. All of my circumstances have lead me to the heart of surrender, where I have leaned into faith and trusted God to control the outcome. I cannot handle this pain on my own, but Jesus can. For a fiercely independent woman who loves control as much as I do, this is a hard lesson to learn (and to be honest, I’m still learning it). When I look back at my life, the scars of my story bring me joy, because I am overwhelmingly thankful that they pointed me to Christ and a deeper intimacy with him. My suffering is ultimately what saved me.

It is through Jesus that we have life, and through him that we have strength. There are many things in this life that we will not be able to handle. But God’s promises ring true. “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20).

Next time you feel that you’ve been given more than you can handle, turn it over to the one who suffered unimaginably to take it for you. It is only by his strength and sacrifice that we walk with confidence through the fires that surround us.