“But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” 2 Corinthians 1:9
Phone rings and test results came back positive for cancer. Your friend is going through a divorce. A mother just gave birth to a still born. A father is visiting his only son, 15, in prison doing life for murder. Your daughter was drugged and raped. Your husband lost his job. A bride got left at the altar. Parents just lost their son to suicide. You found drugs in your child’s room. A single mom doesn’t know how she is going to make ends meet. Your sister just became a widow.
“God won’t give you more than you can handle.” They said.
Odd, I can’t seem to find that scripture in the Bible.
We, Christians have strange ways of comforting those around us in times of suffering. We scramble to find the words to say when someone confesses their life is falling apart. So often we replace Scripture with conventional wisdom. We say something like, “I am so sorry, but, hey you know the Bible promises God won’t ever give you more in life than you can handle.” There it is—conventional wisdom masquerading as biblical truth. Yep, we have gone and done it. We have just promised what the Bible never does.
The Bible never states God gives us trouble. He does not give us tribulation. He does not give us sickness, hardships, or even heartbreak. It is really important for us to understand that God is good. Every good and perfect thing comes from Him. (James 1:17) So to say that, “God wouldn’t give you ____________ because its more than you can handle isn’t the truth about God’s character. We are told that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came to give life and life more abundantly. (John 10:10) What Scripture does tells us about the hard stuff we walk through is this “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 That word tribulation in the Greek means anguish, affliction, persecution, trouble. We will go through trials but they are not given to us by God. They are allowed by God from Satan and they have great purpose. And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:12) God can use all things for His glory and for your good. (Romans 8:28) Another account where we see the enemy at work is with Joesph’s life. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. (Genesis 50:20)
The world is filled with people who have dealt with far more than anyone should ever have to handle. We have a front row seat to a few right here in the Word of God.
Job? Do you think he could handle the grief of seven dead sons and three dead daughters? What about his entire body covered in boils? How about losing all of his wealth in one afternoon? His closest friends mocking him in the middle of his grief? His wife repulsed by him?
How about Joseph? Thrown into a pit by his older jealous brothers. Shortly after to be sold into slavery carted off by Egyptians in chains. He works his way up in command while in Egypt to have Potiphar’s wife make false accusations against him causing him to lose his favor and rank sending him back to jail.
Oh, and then there’s Paul. Went to prison numerous times. Flogged to point of death multiple times. Stoned. Beaten with rods. Shipwrecked three times. Danger from bandits, rivers, his own people, wilderness, false brothers, and seas.
Labored and toiled gone without sleep, food, water and clothing. Cold and exposed.
Jesus. He was appalled by man. Paraded through the streets spit on and mocked. His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness. (Isaiah 54:14) He bore the weight of ALL SINS. Crucified on a cross.
Just like you and me they too were given much more than they could handle. So the question is then, why? The Apostle Paul wrote: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9, NIV).
Our key verse offers wisdom for us in regards to dealing with more than we can handle. It is so we realize we can not rely on ourselves but to rely on God to get us through it. We can consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18) There is so much beauty that can come out of our sufferings. We see the glory that was revealed through the accounts of these men’s lives. Job’s sufferings resulted in double for his trouble. A double portion was restored to him! Joseph rose to become the prime minister of all Egypt. Saving a nation including the very family that threw him into the pit 30 years prior! Paul went on to write a majority of the New Testament. And, then there is Jesus. He defeated Death and has given us the opportunity to be reconciled to God the Father because of the blood He shed for us. We can walk through life this side of eternity in victory over sin and sufferings with resurrection power. Ultimately spending eternity with God in Heaven.
If God didn’t give us more then we could handle there was no need for the death and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ. God will allow us to be given more than we can handle, so that we see our need for dependence on Him. He wants to help us handle what we have been given. God wants to help us walk through difficult things being strengthen in our faith so that we might be able to encourage others that will walk through something similar we have overcome with His help. (Luke 22:32)
Be blessed by these words from “John Newton… on the Christian Life”: “Some Christians are called to endure a disproportionate amount of suffering. Such Christians are a spectacle of grace to the church, like flaming bushes unconsumed, and cause us to ask, like Moses: ‘Why is this bush not burned up?’ The strength and stability of these believers can be explained only by the miracle of God’s sustaining grace. The God who sustains Christians in unceasing pain is the same God — with the same grace — who sustains me in my smaller sufferings. We marvel at God’s persevering grace and grow in our confidence in Him as He governs our lives.” Take heart, if you are suffering affliction and holding fast to a godly response, you are a flaming bush, a spectacle on display!
Father God, thank you that Jesus walked through the ultimate suffering so that I could be reconciled to you and walk in victory. Help me to be sensitive to those who are suffering around me and have wisdom to speak into their lives. When I am given more than I can handle help me to turn to you for comfort and strength in Jesus name. Amen