Monday, August 22, 2011

"God will never put more on you than you can bear"

“God will never put more on you than you can bear.” Ever heard that saying before? Ever said that saying? Ever heard someone preface it with, “the bible says...” So, does the bible actually say that?

Well, yes and no. The idea behind that saying comes from 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 - “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” The context is the area of temptation to sin, specifically the temptation toward idolatry. Paul is speaking about the Israelites and their tendency toward idolatry while in the wilderness wanderings.

However, listen to 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 - “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” Notice the particular phrase - “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.”

How do we reconcile these? I believe that the foundation of our answer to this paradox is a robust understanding and belief and trust in the sovereignty of God over the universe, including our own lives--particularly as it pertains to suffering. We begin here recognizing that whether God actively causes something or simply permits it or allows it, one thing is absolutely true--he is over it. He is the God over all creation.

Part of our response is in 1 Peter 4:12-16 - “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”

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