"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."
~1 Corinthians 10:13~
There is a great deal of comfort in that verse. To know that I will not have to face anything that I cannot handle has always given me a great amount of assurance for the future, as well it should. But I have to admit, I don't believe that I have always taken the proper perspective on this verse. You see, Paul does say here that we will not face temptation beyond what we can handle. But then you pair this statement with this passage...
"Concerning this thing [the thorn in Paul's flesh] I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
~2 Corinthians 12:8-10~
Hmmm... Well, but see, Lord, I'm not like Paul. I just don't think I can handle all that...
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Yes, there's the truth of it right there. When God talks about what we can handle, it's not really about what we - on our own - have the strength to face,or what we might believe we have the strength to face. It's rather about what HE has the strength to face. And that's where it can get a bit scary because I know my God, and I know that He has the strength to face anything. So when He says that I won't be tempted beyond what I can handle, what He's taking into account is that if I give Him full reign in my life (Galatians 2:20), I too can face anything. And that right there is the scary part. Yes, there is great comfort in knowing that God can and will equip me to face anything this life throws up against me, but the fear starts to rise up in me when I think about all the awful things that could be included in the category of, well, 'anything.'
And that's exactly when I need to stop myself and revisit the words of Psalm 47...
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear..."
Throughout this Psalm, we see the immense power of our great and glorious God. And we see that this all-powerful God is always there to stand with us in the midst of our storms and to see us through to bright skies once again, whether in this life or in the next. Yes, our Lord is a "very present help" to all who heed His exhortation - "Be still, and know that I am God."
Do I truly know that He is God? Is His divinity more than just a wishful hope to me? I ask myself these questions because I'm afraid that my life too often reflects the wrong answer. Too often, I see myself responding to threats, or even potential threats, with such fear and anxiety that I can't help but conclude that I must be harboring some doubts in my heart. Is it any wonder that the Holy Spirit compares the doubting heart to a wind-tossed sea and points out the instability of such a life (James 1:6-8)?
I pray that God will forgive me for these doubts and strengthen me as I seek out and eradicate them. And I pray that all of us who have let fear, anxiety, and worry take root in our hearts will do the work necessary to uproot them so that the seed of God's word can thrive and produce its wonderful fruit (Mt. 13:18-23; Gal. 5:22-23). May our minds be consumed not with worry but with the heavenly home that Jesus has prepared for us (Jn. 14:1-6; Phil. 3:12-16). For if we follow faithfully the path He has left for us, what really is there to fear?
"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, not things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.