Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Than Who Can Handle?

One verse that Christians like to use to comfort themselves and each other is 1 Corinthians 10:13. We find comfort in the thought that God “won’t give us more than we can bear.”

Recently I’ve been reading a couple of Charles Stanley’s books. One in particular is How to Handle Adversity. I found it curious that it wasn’t titled “How to Overcome Adversity.” Indeed, the book isn’t about how to battle adversity and come out the victor; rather, it’s about how to understand what God may be saying, or not saying, during difficult times.

The book led me to think back to the 1 Corinthians verse. I like to take things in context, so here it is with some of the surrounding material:

1For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the same spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

6Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did – and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9We should not test Christ, as some of them did – and were killed by snakes. 10And do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel.

11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to us all. 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.

14Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. [1 Corinthians 1:1-14, Today’s NIV]

There are tons of things that could be brought forth from just that little smidgen of Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, but let’s stay focused here. The famous “beyond what you can bear” verse deals with temptation, not adversity. Surprised? Granted, much adversity can come from the consequences of our sin, as Paul wrote earlier. Adversity, though, can come for other reasons; consider Job as the most famous example of one who suffered extreme adversity that wasn’t caused by sin. The blind man mentioned in John 9 was born blind, but not due to sin, but so that God’s glory could shine forth (John 9:3).

So where is our hope in adversity? Consider This: God’s still there, and God still cares. When Joshua was ready to take Jericho in the name of the Lord, God told him numerous times to “be strong and courageous,” because God was with them. We might not be able to bear the suffering, but God can, if we cast all our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:6-11).

One pastor, in his “Faith Engineer” blog at http://www.faithengineer.com/2008/01/god-wont-give-you-more-than-you-can.html, cited another pastor dealing with this. Quoting that other pastor: “It does not imply that God won’t let you be stressed beyond what you can bear. Or challenged beyond your ability. Or pushed beyond your threshold. In reality, God gives you more than you can bear all the time. On purpose. It’s only when you can’t bear the load that the strength of Christ kicks in… and He becomes everything you need and more.”

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Happy Valentine's Day, everybody.

Earlier this evening I confessed to a friend that I had forgotten that today was the day where too many guys will get tons of grief from their "significant other" because they, too, forgot the day. My friend, a young lady who recently got engaged, asked if if my wife and I even celebrate the day. I told her we did, after a fashion. I told her that I recently heard someone on the radio mention that today was when many girls and women receive stuff out of obligation. I asked, "what's the romance in that?"

Love should never be restricted to a single day of the year (or two, if you also include the mysterious "Sweetest Day" in the fall). True love is even more than a lifestyle. True love is something that's so much a part of you that it just won't let go.

What is this true love? 1 Corinthians 13 in the Bible describes it. The NIV renders it thusly:

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I know of nobody on this planet who lives up to that definition. I certainly don't. this past week showed me that I'm a far way off from that kind of love. That kind of unconditional perfect love comes from only one source: God!

This Valentine's Day, and every day, Consider This: God sets the example and empowers us to love. Instead of obligating or being obligated just because it's a particular calendar day, simply show and live love!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...