Throughout life as a Christian I have heard many verses used to the point of becoming cliché. The ones that get repeated over and over to the point that it can sometimes make you sick to hear them. They are usually only segments of verses that are short enough to fit on a bumper sticker, or a key chain. Verses like ‘I can do all things through Him…’ (Philippians 4:13) or ‘…do not fear, for I am with you…’ (Isiah 41:10) ‘For I know the plans I have for you…’ (Jeremiah 29;11) ‘God will never give you more than you can handle.’
You may be wondering if I either didn’t know the book and reference number for that verse or if maybe I’m just too lazy to look it up. Neither is true. The truth is that this isn’t a verse, it is nowhere to be found in the Bible (GASP!!).
When I read that this isn’t in the Bible I did exactly what you are probably doing, have done already, or will do after you read this. It’s not there.
What you will find is a verse that sounds similar, but really means something different. You will find 1St Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be TEMPTED more than you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will also give you a way to escape temptation. Then you will be able to endure it.”
A little background on this verse. The two Corinthians are letters from Paul to the church in Corinth. The church in Corinth was founded by Paul but continued after he moved on to continue his ministry. As the church in Corinth grew and developed its members became divided over matters of doctrine, some of which was influenced by the local pagan traditions. The letters from Paul were meant to help clear some things up, so to speak. This verse comes after a comparison to the Israelites who lived during the Exodus from Egypt led by Moses. Though these people were led by one of Jewish traditions most revered patriarchs, and were witness to some incredible acts of God in their deliverance, many of them still succumbed to sins they were specifically warned about. As a result, many died and the people as a whole were forced into a 40 year exile of wandering in the desert. The verse preceding 10:13 is a warning to those who believe they are standing firmly against temptation, for even those who lived in a time where there was a direct influence of God succumbed to temptation. 10:13 is an encouragement, the temptations we face aren’t new, and they aren’t irresistible.
Some of you are saying “Same thing, different words.” But I beg you to think a little harder. Is being tempted with sin the same as going through a tough time or being faced with a tough problem?
If you have a question of what “hard times” or “trials” are, take a look at Job. He was righteous, yet God allowed him to lose all his livestock to fire and pestilence and theft, then his son’s house is destroyed and all Job’s children die in the destruction, and then Job himself is afflicted with all kinds of painful diseases.
Look at Paul, he describes his own trials in 2nd Corinthians 11:25 ‘ Three times I’ve been beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I’ve been shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and day drifting in the sea.’ Not to mention he is later falsely imprisoned. All these things happened to him while he was SPREADING THE CHURCH. He was doing the work Jesus Christ commanded him to do.
You may be saying that both of these men made it through the trials and suffering, so it wasn’t more than they could handle. But I would point out two things.
- Neither of these men suffered as a result of succumbing to temptation.
- Neither of these men made it through these hard circumstances without help (from God or man).
The second point is the one I want to focus on, the fact that these men made it through only with assistance (from man and God). Job had the help of his wife (till she left), and then had friends who came to counsel him (though they all were wrong about the cause of his hardship-except the youngest). But it was God, in the end, who made everything right again with Job, and gave him more than he had before. Paul similarly received assistance through direct influence of God (or his angels), or by friends put in his path by God.
Would these men have made it without God? Could they have handled it? Job would have died miserable and alone. Paul (if he ever would have become an apostle instead of Christianity’s most successful persecutor) wouldn’t have survived the first stoning, much less shipwrecks.
God will not tempt you more than you can handle, or with anything new to mankind. But he will put you through harder times than you can handle by yourself. These are to show you that you are not strong enough without him. They may be God’s method of showing other’s his power of redemption, or to increase weight of your testimony. They are designed to humble you, not break you.