Tuesday, October 8, 2013

More Than We Can Handle

Here's some good stuff from our friend Kevin Vannorsdel. Check it out.


“More Than We Can Handle”

Recently I was in a discussion where someone mentioned that “God wouldn't give us more than we can handle”.  It seems like this idea surfaces every now and then and often I am unsure exactly how to respond.  I thought given the recent events here in Colorado, it would be good to examine the idea just briefly.

The use (or mis-use) of certain Bible verses in today’s culture is one of my favorite topics [1].  It turns out that the notion that God won’t give us more than we can handle falls squarely into this category.  The Bible simply doesn't make this claim.

So where does the idea come from?  I am actually not sure, the closest verse that I can find is in 1 Corinthians [2]:

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation 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.

Of course it is plain to see that here Paul is talking about temptation specifically and not “hard times” in general. 

So what does the Bible say about protection from suffering?  Unfortunately in my view, not much!  In fact it seems that suffering is a very integral part of life as a Christian.  All of us in the ultimate sense, will eventually die from something that is greater than “we can bear” [3]. Take a look at the book of Job, consider the life of Jesus himself, have a look at the lives of those in the early church (Acts).   Suffering seems to be an integral part of the Christian experience.  I’m not exactly happy about it but I am not defeated by it either.

Numerous passages discuss how we are to be “Joyful” in the face of sufferings.  These passages at first glance can be extremely hard to stomach and may seem nearly impossible to make real in our lives.  Perhaps someday I can share with you some about my journey through these concepts.  Suffice it to say that there are some VERY real reasons that we indeed can be joyful when suffering comes our way [4].

One of my favorite passages in this regard is 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.   I've written a bit about this previously here:  http://flatironsmen.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-desert-song_26.html  .   I noticed that Trent has referenced some of these passages in his blog posts as well.

The bottom line is this:  God never promised to protect us from suffering in this life.   In fact, just the opposite seems to be true [5].  We certainly all will experience hard times that are “more than we can handle”.  God does ask us to depend upon him during these times.  He promises to ride with us through them, to help us learn from them, and to use them in our lives for good.  Frankly, I wish things were different, but I’ve decided that God knows more about this than I do.  I hope you have too!


[1] See “The Most Misused Verses in the Bible” by Eric Bargerhuff for some interesting reading on the topic.
[2] Jim actually referenced this verse last weekend in his sermon.  Of course he used it properly!
[3] Unless Jesus returns first!
[4] Some of these reasons are not so obvious but are indeed satisfying.
[5] I highly recommend a book by RC Sproul entitled “Surprised by Suffering”.

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