Have you ever felt like God’s given you more than you can bear? I have. During dark days as I trekked through memories of childhood sexual abuse, I cried out to God. “It’s too much!” After major back surgery when muscle spasms sent excruciating pain throughout my body over and over again, the suffering was more than I could withstand. Or when my 28-year marriage crumbled and died. Oh Lord, I sobbed, I won’t survive this.
But I’ve heard many Christians say, “God never gives us more than we can bear.” They mean well, but that claim and reality don’t seem to match up.
Hasn’t the groom whose bride was killed on their honeymoon experienced grief beyond bearing? Or the mother of the bride who will never see her daughter’s smile again? Isn’t that pain too much?
And what about Christ?
They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head
again and again. After they had mocked him…they led him away
to crucify him (Matthew 26:30-31).
Christ suffered unto death.
So what’s the truth? The claim that God never gives us more than we can bear comes from a verse often misquoted:
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).
I find comfort in that verse. It assures me I’m not the wimp I was tempted to believe I am. The truth is that God won’t allow us to experience temptation beyond what we can bear. Suffering is a different story.
When we’re tempted to comfort ourselves through the grief of losing a loved one by escaping from our pain through destructive measures, God offers us the Comforter, His Spirit, who walks us through the valley of the shadow of death. When we’re tempted to believe, based on circumstances, that God doesn’t love us, He reminds us of His beloved Son, who He sent to die for us.
Scripture warns us—even promises us—that we’ll bear tribulation here on earth. But as James reminds us, our time here is but a vapor. It is just the beginning. For reasons I don’t understand, God allows the prince of darkness to rule on earth. He allows suffering.
I must chose, in faith, to believe there is something more—that as I share in the sufferings of Christ, someday soon, I will meet Jesus face to face. I will know Him by the scars He bears. I will live for eternity in the light of the Father’s love—a Father who sacrificed His own son–who walked through the pain of death—for me. And for you. So that He might save us for eternity.
Have you experienced more than you can bear?
Are you tempted to turn your back on the One who allows your suffering?
Or are you holding fast to the hope of eternity?
As we share with one another and build a community through this blog, I pray we will offer one another the love, encouragement, and gracious embrace of Jesus Christ.