Adoption story leads SBTC evangelism director to new book tackling well-worn Christian lies
February 4th, 2019 / By: Tobin Perry / comments
For Shane and Kasi Pruitt, 2013 brought unprecedented testing and trial.
After years of dreaming about adopting a child who would one day run and play with their two daughters and maybe star on a Texas gridiron, God answered their prayers in a completely different way.
God gave them Titus—a smiling, handsome boy who doctors said would never get out of a wheelchair or communicate the way other children do. They had new routines to learn, new doctors’ visits to fit into their already hectic schedules, and new surgeries to attend. They loved their new son but they were worn out physically, spiritually and emotionally.
During this year, Shane and Kasi heard one sentence over and over again: “God never gives us more than we can handle.”
In fact, the couple even began to say it themselves, but it simply didn’t help.
It sounds great. It’s easy to remember. It seems like the perfect expression to say when talking to someone who has hit hard times.
But, Pruitt says, it was a lie. God does give people more than they can handle at times—so that believers can learn to lean on Him.
“One of the greatest promises that God gives us in Scripture is not that He will keep us out of difficult situations or that He will make sure we never experience suffering,” Pruitt wrote in his new book, 9 Common Lies Christians Believe. “Rather, He promises to be with us in those difficult situations and be an ever-present help in times of suffering.”
In 9 Common Lies Christians Believe, Pruitt explores this lie and others. Multnomah released it on Feb. 19.
The well-worn Christian cliché did little to ease the Pruitts’ pain. Shane, a church planter at the time, drowned the stress in busyness, focusing on a variety of ministry tasks. Kasi turned inward, stewing in anger.
Shane and Kasi had always known they wanted to adopt someday. They began planning it not long after they said their wedding vows. After having two biological children, they began the arduous task of paperwork and home studies as they searched for just the right child to add to their young family. They wanted to adopt internationally and had a particular passion for Uganda.
Though rarely audible, Shane had a picture of the kind of son they’d adopt one day.
Pruitt, who now serves as the director of evangelism at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, had dreamed of physical activities, such as athletics, that often bond many fathers and sons.
Meanwhile, Kasi prayed regularly that God would give them a child no one else wanted. An acquaintance on social media alerted the couple to Titus, sending them a picture of a boy in Uganda with a massive wound that covered 40 percent of his head and went through to the skull.
“They really wanted to get him to the states, and they knew we lived in Dallas,” Pruitt said. “We talked, we prayed, we cried, and we really believed God was telling us, ‘This is your son.’”
Just a few days after bringing Titus home, the Pruitts discovered he had cerebral palsy, which meant he’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life—a reality they weren’t prepared for.
But the struggles were bigger than them. As the Pruitts watched Titus suffer through medical procedure after procedure, their hearts grew heavier. Clichés like “God won’t give you more than you can handle” didn’t help.
The couple finally came to a breaking point—and a realization that changed the trajectory of their family.
“We had to let go of our [perfect] dream for our family,” Pruitt said. “We had to realize that God, according to Ephesians 3:20, is exceedingly, abundantly more than what we could dream. To move forward, we had to get back to the basics.”
That meant letting go of the tired clichés and grabbing on more tightly to time with God. Although Pruitt had been in the Bible every day as a pastor preparing sermons, he hadn’t been as honest with God as he could be.
As part of that honesty before God, Pruitt took a look at the clichés they had heard so often during the past year—and that they had used themselves.
“God won’t give you more than you can handle” was just the start. The more Pruitt thought about that lie and how often it got mentioned, the more he thought of other lies, eight others in fact, such as, “God gained another angel,” “Follow your heart,” and “God just wants me to be happy.” All were lies that didn’t have roots in the Word of God.
“Initially, they sound good,” Pruitt said of these clichés. “Most of the time when people share them, they are well-meaning. The real danger is that these statements aren’t biblical, and there’s not a lot of depth to them either.”
Pruitt compares these clichés to cotton candy, which tastes good for the first few bites but gets old and doesn’t nourish the body.
He says he understands it’s tough in the heat of the moment not to drift back to these clichés, but he encourages Christians to take people to the Bible instead.
“Christians should be more Bible literate,” Pruitt said. “These lies being regurgitated are really more telling of our Bible illiteracy than anything else. We don’t have good theology and doctrine ourselves, so we just regurgitate what we hear others say. We need to constantly be in God’s Word and prayer.”
Pruitt also notes that sometimes, what people need from us when they’re going through trying times is simply to listen and be present. He hopes the book will help Christians respond biblically to their own struggles and the struggles of others. The book includes small-group questions to help readers discuss what they’re learning with others.
For more information on the book or to get a copy, visit shanepruitt.com.