Daily Devotion - Tuesday, February 23, 2016
12 Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. - 1 Corinthians 10:12-13
I was having a hard conversation with a church member many years ago. She was telling me all of the difficult things that she was going through at the time. Not only was she struggling with her own illnesses and physical challenges, she was also heartbroken over her son's marital problems, and to top things off she was in deep financial distress.
"I am so sorry that all of this is happening to you," I told her. "I don't have a lot of answers as to why we sometimes have to go through these hard seasons of our lives." She smiled brightly, "It's okay, pastor. The Bible tells us that 'God doesn't give us any more than we can handle.'"
The problem with her biblical quote was that it wasn't actually in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is one of the most frequently misquoted verses in the Bible. For some reason, lots of people assume that it reads, "God will not give you more than you can handle." As you can see, it clearly reads that "God will not let you be tempted beyond your strength."
The word tempted in this case has often been interpreted as "tested," or "tried," so I can see how somewhere along the line some folks made the rhetorical leap from "God will not let you be tempted beyond your strength," to "God doesn't give you any more than you can handle."
There's just one problem with that rhetorical leap: God frequently allows us to experience more than we can handle.
I don't believe for one minute that God causes all the difficult things that we face in life. Like a loving parent, God allows us to experience the consequences of our own actions, and from time to time the consequences of the actions of others. And, like children, we may not always feel like this is exactly fair, but the freedom that leads to these consequences is a gift from God, not a curse.
What the Apostle Paul was talking about here in 1 Corinthians 13 has less to do with muddling through the difficult seasons, the challenges and struggles of life, and more to do with a sustained and enduring faith through those difficult seasons, challenges and struggles.
In other words, you very well might have more than you can handle on your plate right now. God didn't cause that, but God is present in the midst of it. The temptation before you is to doubt God's presence, to ignore it, to blind yourself to it, and to lose faith as a result of that blindness. The Apostle Paul essentially is saying, "All you need to do is open your eyes--God's not going to leave you high and dry. Have faith! Endure! God is with you!"
May you experience the very presence of God in the middle of your struggles and challenges today. May you become more aware of God's presence even when you have more than you can handle. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.