Janet is lying in a hotel room 500 miles from home. Her husband Jon is lying just next to her sleeping. Janet, however, has not slept in days and is anything but peaceful. Thoughts of bills that need to be paid, the kid’s school projects, a relationship struggle with her mother, and other thoughts are running through Janet’s mind. These thoughts seem to be intensifying to the point where she is breaking out in cold sweats, her chest aches, and panic begins to set in. Please Lord, do not allow this to happen here!
So, it seems the Corinthian church had a few issue’s Paul needed to address. Their times together were unorganized with many people talking at once to share their profound wisdom. There were unspeakable sexual acts that were happening, and people consuming a little too much wine during communion. There was a dispute regarding eating meat sacrificed to idols. Paul needed to send a letter of correction to this first-century church.
1 Corinthians 10 is a warning to flee idolatry. The warning comes as Paul may be seeing where this body resembles the disobedient Israelites during the wilderness. Paul writes examples from the Old Testament Israelites that described their idolatries and how God punished them. 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 says, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
Does God give you only what you can handle?
It has been said that God will not give you more than you can handle. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is often quoted. Quote that to someone who had no choice but to lay in bed for an extended period of time or had no choice but to go through the death of a loved one. Maybe a child was born with a birth defect, or they experienced the loss of a child. Maybe they’re bound to a wheelchair for life, and they experience chronic pain throughout their entire body. Maybe they suffer from an inner battle of emotion that will never go away. These people are usually crushed with and are dealing with pain that is going nowhere.
What people may hear when someone says God only gives you what you can handle is that they should handle their experience with a smile. The pressure is then put on them to say that all is good even though deep down inside their spirits are shattered. They may even make special attempts to go to church after the immediate loss of a loved one because that is what is expected of them. This phrase ends up giving discouragement and isolation to those who have no choice but to go through loss and pain. The truth is God gives you what you can’t handle, and you have no choice but to go through it.
Do you think the apostle Paul was given what he could handle? 2 Corinthians 1:8 says otherwise. It reads, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.” I think the apostle would sadly disagree with the advice that God only gives us what we can handle.
God provides a way of escape!
Now, 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that God will provide a way escape. The reality of this promise may come as a surprise for someone as Paul is not saying an escape from physical suffering, pain, and loss. In fact, if you look at the context surrounding this verse you will see it is an escape from sinning against God and worshiping idols. The promise for someone suffering is that God will provide a way of escape against sinning against Him during the struggle.
Our Father at times will protect His children by providing a physical solution, but it is not the rule. This is a promise that God will provide the grace we need to believe in Him. To the Corinthian church, this was a promise that God would provide them a way of escaping idolatry worship and enduring the idolatrous society that was happening in Corinth. Paul is telling them that God would provide them the ability to endure and live in a place where idol worship was rampant.
We do live in a place of immense idol worship, and the same promises apply to us today as it did then. On the macro level, the United States is a hotbed for idol worship in various shapes and sizes. The promises come at you from all different angles. On a micro level, when we personally go through struggle we can be tempted to worship the struggle and its promises. We can only escape the temptation to worship the struggle through faith in a loving Father who promises to work it all out for good.
The Key to Enduring through pain, loss, and struggle.
The long and short of the answer rest within the person of God. God is the answer. He gives you Himself. 2 Peter 1:4 says, “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”
What Peter says is that we are having fellowship with God when we are resting in His promises. Being partakers of the divine nature, as Peter puts it, means to be in direct contact with the living, breathing, all-knowing, all-powerful, compassionate, gracious, merciful, loving God who desires for us to call Him Father. Resting in, and reminding ourselves of God’s promises essentially means we are in the very presence of God despite our circumstances.
Knowing the promises of God are essential in your ability to endure. The pain, the loss, and the struggle will come and make you promises. Most of which they will tell you that you are not good enough, nobody loves you, and there is no hope. Our ability to endure comes does not come from listening to what the struggles are promising. Our ability to endure comes from belief in God and His promises.
Our Father has nothing but positive promises for us who are followers of His Son. He promises that every pain, struggle, and trial will be for our good, Romans 8:28. He promises to complete everything that He started, Philippians 1:6. He promises that we will be like His Son, 1 John 3:2. He promises never to leave us or forsake us, Hebrews 13:5.
The greatest gift to help us endure.
Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” I want you to look at Ephesians 2:8 a bit deeper. God is the gift. Believing in God is a result of God giving Himself to you. It is a result of God being with you. The truth is, as you struggle and are exercising your faith in Him, your Father is right there with you.
Our Father is not only with us but is weeping with us. If we need to know this to be true, then all we must do is turn to Jesus in the scriptures to see how He interacts with the struggling people He loves. The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35 which reads, “Jesus wept.” Jesus was weeping because He loved the people who were struggling. We can take this and know that God weeps with us as well. Just after the resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus is seen taking part of a celebratory supper. He not only wept with them but rejoiced with them as well. When you rejoice, He rejoices! The point is that our God is in the midst of everything we go through and shows great humility in that He is experiencing life right along with us. Your ability to endure will come not because you have the strength but because the presence of your Father in every situation is your strength.
What Janet learned later is that she was experiencing a mild overdose of medication that was causing her great anxiety. In many cases, people commit suicide hence the reason why so many of those warning labels say suicidal thoughts may happen. Janet will tell you that she could see where people would commit suicide as it may have been tempting to relieve the pain.
Janet will also tell you that one of her motivations to keep living was remembering God’s promises. Over and over she would remind herself that she was a child of God and that He would never leave her or forsake her. She was remembering Philippians 1:6 in that God was going to finish was He started and that God uses everything for the good of His children, even the pain she was going through.
Temptations come in various forms. They may be even brighter and more profound during the struggle. God may seem far away and not caring but, what Janet learned is that Her Father was right there with her. What she now knows is God was in the struggle with her helping her to escape the temptations of the struggle by providing her with faith in Him and His promises.
The intention of this article is to give you encouragement. You may not be going through hardship now, but this truth is profound for you as well. When you are believing in God as He has presented Himself to you through Jesus and resting in His promises, God is with you! You are never alone. How profound is this to you! If it is not, please be praying that God would help you understand this great truth.
Please be encouraged if you have gone through suffering with sustained faith in all that God has done for you through Jesus. He was not far away from you but was in the fight with you. Remember this as you go forward and know that He will never leave you, Romans 8:38-9. You are His forever!