Throwback Thursday

In honor of Throwback Thursday, here is a peek at a meditation from February of 2011:

Afflicted

During a discussion about the first chapter in 2 Corinthians, I kept thinking of a platitude that I have commonly heard, namely, that God will not give us more than we can handle. I began to wonder where I had heard this and, indeed, if it was even Biblical… I know that I, myself, have said it often. Out of the blue, however, I could only think of one verse that comes anywhere close to that.

If I am mistaken and simply unable to call to mind a crucial verse or passage saying that God will not give us more than we can handle, please correct me! However, the closest I could come off the top of my head was 1 Corinthians 10:13 where it is said, “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.” Note that this verse does not say that God will not dish out more than we can take, but that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. This is not referring to trials or affliction but specifically to temptation. We also know that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13) although He will permit us to be tempted in order to test and prove our faith and faithfulness, or to expose areas where we need to surrender to Him. It is important to differentiate: He sends trials, but He does not send temptation — that is the work of the one called Accuser and Tempter, the father of lies. However, the trials God sends are often far more than we are capable of handling on our own. Let’s take a closer look.

In verse 8 of chapter 1 of 2 Corinthians, Paul says, “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself,” (emphasis mine). Paul, it seemed, had more than he could handle at the time. However, he goes on to say in verse 9, “… but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God…” As I pondered these words, I began to think of the many verses on suffering, affliction, and tribulation that the Bible contains, and I could not think of a single one where it was promised that we would never receive more than we could handle. In fact, the implication often was that we must patiently endure the tribulation (John 16:33, Romans 5:3, 8:35, 12:12, 2 Timothy 2:3, et al). Indeed, we see that God often sends affliction to refine and shape us (Isaiah 30:20, 48:10, 2 Corinthians 4:17, et al). Jesus, also, told His disciples that when He went away, the Helper would come who would convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement. This Helper, the Holy Spirit, would also “guide them into all truth” (see John 16:7-13). As a point of fact, why would we need the Helper, this Parakletos, which means both helper and consoler, intercessor and comforter if there was no suffering to come? Who needs comfort if there is nothing to need comfort from?

I have been mulling these things over for the past few days, and I can only say that I stand corrected. No longer do I believe that God will not burden me beyond my strength, as I have said before. I do say He will provide a way out when I am tempted to doubt His goodness during those trials or afflictions, but it is still my choice to take it. However, I dare say that God will, indeed, burden me beyond my strength in order that His power will be made perfect in my weakness, and so all will know of His might and not of mine. When I have health trouble that bogs me down, dulls my mind, and makes my job seem impossible, past trials that seem to drag on my emotions like an anchor, or any other affliction or trial, let it never be said, “Look what Heather endured and how strong she was to stand through it all,” but instead, “Look what the Lord has brought her through, weak and small though she is. How merciful, how wonderful, how majestic is He!”

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