“NO TEMPTATION HAS overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV).
This is true. Our excuses for succumbing to temptation aren’t valid.
“I couldn’t resist!”
No, too often we simply don’t heed the exit signs that God puts up along the four-lane highway of temptation.
But sometimes this verse is erroneously translated to say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
That is not true. Not true at all.
Cancer? That’s more than you can handle.
Your spouse’s death? Your child’s death? That’s more than you can handle.
Addiction? Rejection? They’re also more than you can handle.
Having to deal with more than we can handle is common, and, in fact, it’s God’s modus operandi.
He intentionally allows situations to come into our lives that are more than we can handle.
Joseph’s brothers believed they had more than they could handle when they stood before their brother whom they had evilly sold to slave traders.
But Joseph assured them, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).
The Apostle Paul frequently had more than he could handle, yet he wrote, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).
More than they could handle.
They thought they had been given a death sentence.
And not without reason.
Nevertheless, they came to the realization that God didn’t want them to handle it; he wanted them to hand it — hand it over to him. Rely on him; not themselves.
God can raise the dead, so handling deadly situations isn’t problematic for him.
In fact, “God’s resurrection power works best in graveyards” is an adage I’ve come to love.
And the resurrected Jesus invites us: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Rest for our souls, not torment. A light burden, not heavy.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act” (Psalm 37:5).
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6).
We are often faced with more than we can handle.
And that’s OK.
God can handle it.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Greg Reynolds is pastor of Joyce Bible Church. His email is [email protected]