In a women’s bible study I attended recently we were discussing a verse in I Corinthians 10:13 “No has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” It is a verse that many people interpret to mean that God will never give you more than you can handle. I have heard that saying many times when people are going through hard times and when I have gone through difficult things. At the Bible study I said I didn’t think that was true. Let me tell you why.
First off the verse doesn’t say that. It is talking about temptation, not difficulties in our lives. I do believe that God always gives us a way out of temptation, but this verse doesn’t say He will not give you more difficult things in your life than you can handle. I know many Christians who have gone through terrible things. I also know some who have not gone through such difficulties. Does that mean God likes some people more than others, or that He thinks some people are stronger than others? It implies that we are in ourselves strong enough to endure certain things. I think this is contradictory to what I find in other verses about relying on God and God giving us strength. God does sometimes give us more than we can handle, that way we are forced to lean on Him. If we never had anything we couldn’t handle in our lives we would never turn to Him. We are self-reliant people. We don’t want help, most of us. God has to break us sometimes so that we come to full dependence on Him. There are plenty of examples of that in the Bible. Joseph for example. He was a bit cocky as a teenager telling his brothers his dreams of them bowing down to him. I think that is the stuff you should keep to yourself. Anyway. He finds himself sold into slavery. It was a very low point in his life. But God brought him to a low point so that he was dependent on God and then God was able to bring him up to the place he was destined for.
Bad stuff happens in life and if you aren’t handling it well it’s not because you are not strong enough. Thinking that God will not give me more than I can bear leaves me thinking that I am not good enough when I am overwhelmed. That I should suck it up and just be stronger. In reality we should say that God does give us more than we are able to bear alone, so that we will turn to him and find strength to endure the trial. I am never closer to God than when I know I cannot endure what I am going through on my own. When I am forced to depend on him to survive. When I am broken and I know I cannot go on. Those are the times when I am weak that he is strong and I can lean on him and learn from him. God allows difficult things in our lives, and sometimes we create difficult situations in our lives. But He is there when we are at our lowest point if we will admit we need help, He runs to us. I can endure nothing without him. That is the place we need to be.
It reminds me of my favorite poem when I was growing up.
“I walked a mile with Pleasure
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne’er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me.”