Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"More than you can bear" is more than I can bear!

Ever hear this saying:

"God never gives you more than you can bear."

Ever found yourself saying it to someone as an encourager in times of stress, sorrow or despair?

Can I tell you that how much that saying has always given me heartburn?

It's true. It has. It still does...

Several months ago I went down to visit a friend in Savannah, Ga. She is a dear friend - in fact, she is the first one I called after we got my Sweet Hubby's diagnosis because I knew she would get busy praying. And she did. Anyway, we got onto the topic of that very saying. She said it was scriptural and I said I did not believe that it was, because I had looked and looked and could not find it and that I had asked others to look and they could not find it either. Well, as luck would have it our conversation took place on a Wednesday which is when she hosts Bible study at her house which is led by her pastor. So we asked him...and after some research on his part, he came to the conclusion that the saying itself is not scriptural but that people have taken 1 Corinthians 10:13 which addresses temptation specifically and kind of made it apply to all situations of duress and distress. Yeah - well...not so much is what I was thinking!

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

So imagine my surprise (and okay, a little sense of vindication too!) when I recently read the following passage in a book I have been carefully digesting for the past few months:

"Like you, perhaps, I grew up in church. And my overall experience with that was actually quite positive. I'm not one who walks around bitter and carrying a lot of baggage from my early church experiences.

However, there were several times in my life when well-meaning people spoke what they thought were scriptural truths into my life. But those "truths," which actually were not scriptural at all, just created layers of distortion about how I relate to God.

One particular phrase I seemed to hear over and over was this: "God will never give you more than you can handle."

It sounds so sweet and biblical, like something my grandmother would have done in needlepoint and hung on the wall in her house.

The problem is, nothing could be further from the truth.

Where in the world did we get such a whacked theology? Where's that verse in the Bible? Hallucinations 4:32 maybe?

Here's the truth -- and this one is thoroughly biblical: throughout life you will face one situation after another that will be completely beyond what you can handle.

The apostle Paul certainly did. He writes in 2 Corinthians 12:7 of a situation he calls "a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan" (NIV). We don't know exactly what it was -- a physical handicap or medical condition or a hard-to-break habit? Paul doesn't tell us. But he does tell us he couldn't handle it. He had to turn it over to God.

The Bible is packed with stories like that. In fact, most of the stories we learned in Sunday school are about individuals who faced situations that were completely beyond what they could handle.

Situations that forced them to make a choice -- either abandon God or worship him in the midst of a Plan B."
excerpt from Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn't Show Up the Say You Thought He Would? by Pete Wilson

YES!!!!! A THOUSAND TIMES YES!!!!!!!! That feels right - at least to me!! And this time, there is a scriptural defense for it! What say you?

Of all the books I have read in my adult life, this one is truly life changing for me (yes, you read that correctly!) and I'm not even finished yet. Already pages are dog-eared and there are times I have to put it down to think and pray over what I have just read. I have a LOT more to share with you about this book in the coming days...I hope you want to hear more about it because it really is that good!

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10


nancygrayce said...

Yes, temptation and suffering are two very different things....although sometimes temptation leads to suffering but that's a whole different thing than suffering itself.

John 16:33 PROMISES us that in this world we will have many troubles!

You did crack me up with the Hallucinations passage! I'll be using that one!

Praying that the One who can, will hold you in His arms through all your troubles!

Gigi said...

Nancy Grayce, I'll admit it - I laughed out loud over the Hallucinations 4:32 reference too! But many a truth is spoken in jest...another old saying!

Thank you, sweet friend, for that beautiful prayer. :)

Dawn said...

Good food for thought - I really like this. I hadn't thought of it just that way, but you are right - that scripture is misused. It is important to realize that we definitely that there are many things that only He can handle for us. I'm living proof of that!

Gigi said...

Amen, Dawn!!

Judy said...

Found your blog through Linds... Sooo totally agree with the whole Plan B thing. I think I might have to look into this book. Living the whole thing I can't handle by myself stuff right now.