Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Than You Can Handle

It's often said that God will not give us more than we can handle.  Is that true?  Are you sure?  What do we base this belief on?  Do you know where it says so in the Bible?

It sounds like a comforting thought, that our loving and watchful heavenly Father will not let our load or trial or test exceed our ability to get through the challenge we face.  But is this really what scripture teaches?  Many would be quick to say, "Yes, God says he will not give us more than we can handle, but will give us a way out."  They would lead us to 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."  Notice it says temptation, not test.  In the NIV version of the Bible there is a footnote that the Greek word can also mean testing.  And that is true.  Testing, temptation, trial and attempt all come from the same root word in the Greek.  So how do we know how to read this verse.  We must be careful not to take the text out of context.

Paul is clearly speaking hear of temptation, not trials or tests.  How can I be so sure?  Glad you asked.  We don't have to go far to have Paul's' own experience teach us the truth.  Look at 2 Corinthians 1:8, "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life." You can see clearly from Paul's own hand that even he was taken "far beyond" his ability to endure.  If he couldn't endure his trial, how on earth are you and I going to make it?  

The answer is in the following verse.  Paul gives credit where credit is due, "Indeed, in out hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."    It is by God's strength that Paul and you and I are able to endure the tests and trials of life.  Many of them are sent by God himself to teach us to depend on him, to grow our faith and to show his glory as he rescues us from whatever situation we find ourselves in.  His methods of rescue are varied, but that's a subject for another blog.  

 If that's not enough proof for you, then take a look back along the stories all through scripture.  Moses at the Red Sea, Joshua walking around Jericho, Gideon going to battle with 300 men and one of my favorites, Hezekiah surrounded by the Assyrian army of 185,000 soldiers.  Time and time again God allows or even leads his people into impossible situations to show himself as the God of the impossible.  

OK, nice Bible lesson.  So what?  So what mountain are you facing today that seems, and for that matter is, insurmountable?  Have you been stretched so far that you feel you are past your limit?  Then understand and act!  Understand that the one true God is able to come through for you.  And act - go to him in prayer and admit your dependence on him and his mercy and grace.  Ask him to show up in your life like he has in so many others.  

Seek him with all your heart.  Ask him what your part is and do whatever he tells you.  It will require faith.  Believe that he is the God who does the impossible and trust him no matter the outcome.  You may or may not get the outcome you desire.  But you will get his best for you as you walk with him in obedience and trust.  

These words don't come lightly from me.  I am currently being tested beyond my ability.  But he is faithful to strengthen me as I rely on him each day.  And he will do the same for you.   

More on temptation later... 

Let me know your thoughts and how I can pray for you.  

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful and Spirit-inspired, Steve! My former pastor also preached on this, saying that if God never gave us more than we could handle, then why would we need Him?

    We are in a place where God has shown Himself to be faithful, but He hasn't relieved us of all our burdens. We don't have the luxury of saying, "Thanks for getting us out of that jam, Lord. We'll take it from here." As the Lord told Paul when he asked to have the thorn in his side removed, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

    For us, He has let enough unresolved in our lives that, try as we might, we can't fix it ourselves. We have to turn to Him once again, and the lesson is that He is to be glorified, by us in our inability to do anything without Him, and by all who witness His miraculous provision and protection in our lives. We must truly arrive at that point where we can say to others who marvel at our rescue, "I had nothing to do with it. It was all God, all the time." God bless you, my friend, as you continue to depend wholly on Him.