One of my students (OK, so she’s in her 40s, but she was in my youth group in a previous century, so she’ll always be one of my kids) has been facing a lot of health issues—chronic, will-they-ever-end health issues. She recently posted on Facebook: God knows😢… He’s giving me more than I can handle. 😞
Most of the responses were encouraging. Some were praying. Some were sharing Bible verses that had supported them in their own difficulties. And then there was this post: “You can handle it. Just don’t dwell on your problems.”
I know the one who posted this, and I think I know his heart. “Stay strong. Don’t give up. Stay positive and you’ll get through this.” I agree with this friend’s encouraging idea—but it’s not enough.
Too many Christians hold to the belief that God will never give us more than we can handle. That idea comes from a mistaken reading of 1 Corinthians 10:13: “God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able …” The context of Paul’s words had to do with the onslaught of temptations, but it can apply just as well to the temptation to give up, get bitter, or rail against God for the troubles we’re facing.
You’re an astute reader, so you’re surely aware that I only quoted half the verse—yet it seems that’s the part of the verse most remembered and, therefore, most misunderstood. The second half of the verse give clarity to the first half.
“God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
Let me connect the meaning of this verse to the temptations we might feel when suffering. God will give us more than we can personally bear, but He never intended for us to bear it alone.
So what is the “way out” God provides? Of course, there are many tangible things (and people) God can place in our path that provde that way of escape, but let’s not lose sight of one key thing He has provided:
He gives us His Holy Spirit, the Comforter. He gives us His Word, by which He strengthens us to stand strong. And He’s given us other believers—His body. The Father wants us to run into His arms and receive His comfort and strength.
Being a follower of Jesus means living in dependence on Him. Total dependence. That doesn’t mean we overlook the gifts and resources He provides. I grieve when I hear stories of people who won’t seek medical help because they think that shows a lack of faith in God. Getting treatment from a doctor is not a lack of faith; it should be pursued with thankfulness to God who gives doctors knowledge and wisdom for treating us.
Whatever we’re facing, whether it’s an invading army like King Asa faced (2 Chron. 14) or an annoying headache, always look to God. Express your dependence and trust in Him. And be ready to grab onto the “way out” He provides.
God is greater than any challenge we face.
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If you are the friend of one who is discouraged this much, don’t forget them. Remind them God loves you and so do I!