One of the major downfalls of not spending time in the Bible, and knowing what is actually written there, is that you become trusting of false ideas. Occasionally short verses can be specific and to the point, too often we have transformed several scriptures to mean something entirely different than what was intended, and we don’t even know we are doing it!
Many of us are guilty of perpetuating the spread of false ideas. We mean well, but I know that I am one of those guilty people that has had a friend share about a burden and responded by saying, “Don’t worry, God won’t give you more than you can handle” followed by a pat on the back or a prayer. For the person saying it, you have the best of intentions to encourage your friend. For the person who feels the immense weight and enormous desperation of their burden it comes up empty. Why?
While the saying is basedon an actual Bible verse, it distorts the wording and meaning behind the verse and morphs it into something that is not only unsympathetic to the hardship, but also untrue. The actual scripture from 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV), and speaks about the temptation to sin, and reads: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, 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.” What began as encouragement to the followers of Christ to resist sin and temptation, has morphed into a catch all phrase for any Christian facing a tough time.
The truth is, when it comes to hard times, God usually gives us more than we can handle by our own means. Jesus tells us in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble,” but he goes on to say “But take heart! I have overcome the world”. Paul tells his followers in 2 Cor. 1:8-9, “We do not want you to be uninformed brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced…We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” The truth is, the Bible does not hold back on the sufferings of life, and our inability to endure them alone. The truth is, we will find ourselves in despair, far beyond our own ability to handle. And what we can’t handle God can.
Real Biblical truth points to the sovereignty and power of God, not on human ability. It reveals the hurt and brokenness of the world that we will experience. It leads to us not relying on our own strength, but the strength of the living and breathing God. The only way to keep yourself alert, and in tune to this truth, is through the study and reading of God’s word. Then, we will be equipped as believers to respond to suffering, not in empty phrases, but grounded in the truth of the Gospel.