I went out for coffee the other day with a friend of mine.  As we sipped our grande nonfat peppermint mochas (with whip, of course, to make up for that icky nonfat milk) and she told me about the latest in the long line of crises that had befallen her.

“But,” she said, pasting a pained smile on her face, “God said He’d never give us more than we can bear, right?”

Well.  Wrong, actually. 

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, God promises that we will never be tempted beyond what we can bear (but that when we are tempted, He’ll provide a way of escape for us). 

Temptation and trials are two different things.

In this world, Jesus said, you will have tribulation.  You will have trials.  You will have trouble.1  

In this world, people you love are going to get sick.  Some of them will die.

Sometimes you’re the one who’s going to get sick.

Maybe you will lose your job.  Almost certainly you’re going to have money problems at one timeImage or another.  Or maybe always.

There’ll be times when you look at your spouse and say to yourself, “Oops.”

Your children are going to turn your hair gray.

There will be people who tell lies about you.  Stab you in the back.  Hurt you in many ways.

And maybe all those things will happen at once.

I went through a year recently where I was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery, then a few months later lost my mom to cancer, followed by my husband having to have spinal surgery and one of my sons struggling to overcome some personal demons.  Not what you’d call a banner year.

In this world, Jesus said (and I’m paraphrasing), sometimes life is really going to suck.

As grateful as we are that God provides a way of escape when we’re faced with temptation (although – I’ll confess to you if you’ll confess to me:  we don’t always take it, do we?), don’t you wish He would have carried the concept a step farther and promised not to allow us to face trials beyond which we could bear?

Why didn’t He, anyway?

Maybe it’s so we’ll finally stop trying to bear all our troubles alone, and let Him do it.  Maybe He lets the burdens pile up and pile up sometimes just so we can learn to fall into His arms and let Him carry us and our burdens.  Because didn’t He also say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”?2  

I think that’s it right there.  He just wants us to come to Him.

So, yes, we’ll never be tempted beyond what we can bear (which means, of course, that we have no excuses, right?).

Sometimes, though, in this world, we will be tried beyond what we, alone, can bear. 

But be of good cheer.  We’re not alone.  Jesus has overcome the world.


1  John 16:33

2 Matt. 11:28

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3 Responses to Unbearable

  1. chrismorriswrites says:

    This is SO RIGHT ON! It is this type of bad teaching or incorrect exegesis that causes so much pain. Whether it’s Joel Osteen smiling us into our best life now, or the well-meaning friend telling us everything will be okay when it feels like we will never get back to okay, sometimes things just suck. But God is still with us, even the midst of the suck. That’s His promise: presence, not the perfect life.

    • Susan says:

      We have the hope of heaven for perfection; right now we’re in a war zone. I like that last line of yours — presence, not the perfect life. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Chris!

  2. Joy Lenton says:

    So true to life as it actually is experienced. Sometimes those things come against us so fiercely we feel like we can’t breathe. That’s often when Holy Spirit breathes His life into us and we are carried as weary wounded ones until we can stand upright and strong again. We know in our hearts that God’s grace is greater than any problem we may face. Yet in the heat of battle we just long for respite and release and it seems nowhere to be found. The secret is to heed the whispered, “Come to Me” and fall into the Father’s embrace. Then we can be held, helped and healed to carry on. Thank you, Susan, for these words of wisdom.

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