Friday, June 05, 2015

Does God decide how much we can handle, then unload on us? NO

The subject of this picture came up at our church's Bible study on Tuesday. The picture appeared on Facebook on Thursday.

The saying on the poster is a good antidote to one of the stupid, unbiblical things that people say at funeral visitations. You know the one I mean. People say, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle."

What a lot of rot!

God isn't sitting in heaven figuring the amount of burdens and griefs He knows that we can bear, then dolloping them out to us accordingly. 

Griefs and burdens come to us because this is a fallen and imperfect world. This isn't heaven. 

God doesn't like the burdens of sin and grief and death we have. That's why He came into the world in Christ to defeat and destroy the power of sin and evil over those who trust in Christ. 

But, in this world, we still will grieve and suffer and die.

We inherited the condition of alienation from God and others when we were born. That condition of alienation is what the Bible calls sin. (From this condition, we commit sins.)

So, until we die, we remain susceptible to the pains and griefs of this world. And we die.

But, God's Word tells us that "...the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). 

Hope for an eternal life free from death and strength for this life come as free gifts to all who repent and believe in Christ.

God doesn't give you the things you have to bear. It's living in this world that does that and there is no limit to what suffering might come to you or to any of us. No one is exempt.

However much suffering this world brings to us, if we take the scarred hand of Jesus, God will help us bear it, and eventually, into the resurrection living Christ has secured for His people.

[UPDATE, a further thought: The apostle Paul does write in 1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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." This may be where the "God won't give you more than you can bear" nonsense started.

Here, Paul is addressing temptation, tests of one's faith, which may be rooted in our own desires or in suffering. But, in either case, Paul is talking about the temptation that may come in any situation to abandon trust in the God we know in Christ. When such temptation happens, Paul says, God will not let you be tempted beyond your capacity to endure, as you rely on Christ. And, this is the part I love, he says that God will give escape hatches for those tempted to abandon the faith. 

This text differs from the common funeral home saying too, because temptation, the subject of the 1 Corinthians passage, does not come from God, any more than suffering does. James 1:13-14 teaches us: "When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed."

God does test us, so that our faith may be strengthened. And He may even use the temptations meted out by the devil, the world, and our sinful selves, to do so. But if God tests and refines us through temptations, we can say to the temptation what Joseph said to his brothers, who had once sold him into slavery, an action that ultimately led Joseph to a position of authority from which he saved hundreds of thousands of lives, "Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good..." (Genesis 50:20).]

[Thanks to Terri, a member of the first parish I served as pastor, for posting the picture which dovetailed with a conversation we'd had surrounding the Old Testament book of Job just two days before.]

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