Wednesday, July 25, 2012

God's Word Says He Won't Give Us More Than We Can Handle

Or does it? 

This phrase is used a lot.  When we see a loved one struggling or hurting in some way we want to encourage them.  We say to them, "God wont give you more than you can handle."  While it is very right to want to affirm and encourage our brethren we must make certain that the words we choose are the truth.  No where in the bible does it say that God won't give us more than we can handle.  That scripture simply does not exist.  In fact it says quite the contrary. 

Many people misunderstand or misquote 1 Cor 10:13.  "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 

First, we must understand that God does not tempt anyone.  "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man."  (James 1:13)  He does however permit us to be tempted.  The scripture then goes on to say that we are tempted and drawn away by our own lusts. (vs 14

When Paul wrote 1 Cor 10:13 he was saying, "we are never in a situation where we have no other choice but to sin.  We always have the option of doing the right thing.  God has made a way for us to escape." 

While it is true that God won't allow us to be tempted beyond our ability and always provides a way of escape, it is also true that he almost always gives us more than we can handle on our own. 

If we read our bible we will see repeatedly, situations of men and women who are given far more than they can handle.  Jeremiah (the weeping prophet) was called on by God to preach repentance to the people of Israel.  He was beaten, plotted against and rejected by everyone, even his own family. Emotionally, that was far more than he could handle (as we see in his many laments). 

What could make this any more clear than when we read Paul's writings, particularly 2 Cor 11:21-30?  "It is shameful to me to say this, but we were too "weak" to do those things to you! But if anyone else is brave enough to brag, then I also will be brave and brag. (I am talking like a fool.)  Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they from Abraham's family? So am I.  Are they serving Christ? I am serving him more. (I am crazy to talk like this.) I have worked much harder than they. I have been in prison more often. I have been hurt more in beatings. I have been near death many times.  Five times the Jews have given me their punishment of 39 lashes with a whip.  Three different times I was beaten with rods. One time they tried to kill me with stones. Three times I was in ships that were wrecked, and one of those times I spent the night and the next day in the sea.  I have gone on many travels. And I have been in danger from rivers, from thieves, from my own people, the Jews, and from those who are not Jews. I have been in danger in cities, in places where no one lives, and on the sea. And I have been in danger with false brothers.  I have done hard and tiring work, and many times I did not sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty. Many times I have been without food. I have been cold and without clothes.  Besides all this, there is on me every day the load of my concern for all the churches.  I feel weak every time someone is weak. I feel upset every time someone is led into sin.  If I must brag, I will brag about the things that show I am weak."  (ICB)

Paul does not tell us this to boast of his own strength, but rather to show us that God does give us more than we can handle and we desperately need the Lord to be able to survive these things.  He is showing us our need for absolute dependency on God. 

2 Cor 1:8-9 says, "Brothers, we want you to know about the trouble we suffered in the country of Asia. We had great burdens there that were greater than our own strength. We even gave up hope for life.  Truly, in our own hearts we believed that we would die. But this happened so that we would not trust in ourselves. It happened so that we would trust in God, who raises people from death."  (ICB)

We need to stop seeing the trials and adversity in our lives as a burden, or an indication that God doesn’t love us.  We must start seeing them as proof that God loves us very much—so much that He will not let us rely on our own strength, but continue to show us that we must rely on Him to endure the suffering.  He promises to preserve us until the end. 



"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"  (Phillipians 1:6)