Many well-meaning and good intentioned people throughout the history of history have recited those words in an effort to encourage others. The difficulty with those encouraging words is they are a potentially a misquote of scripture. Without boring you with the details of a hermeneutical study of New Testament Greek, the scripture verse that comes to mind for most they hear this 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says,
“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.”
The word translated ‘temptation’ is the word in question. It is used 20 times in the New Testament and 12 of those uses it means temptation, as in tempted to sin. Seven times it means trial or trials, and two times it means testing. I would also argue there are several instances in scripture where it appears God has allowed people to experience trials beyond their ability to manage. Paul, the apostle who wrote 1 Corinthians, also wrote regarding a ‘thorn in his flesh’ and while it is unclear as to what exactly that was, he consistently asked God to take it away from him implying he felt it was more than he could bear. Jeremiah, a prophet in the Old Testament, spoke often of the despair he felt daily. Elijah, hid in a cave for months feeling the overwhelming and crushing weight of depression.
While I can appreciate the words of encouragement and sentiment those who care deeply for is offer when speaking these words, I’m not sure it is true. I suppose it is ultimately true, because everyday we manage struggles beyond what we think we can bear because we have to. Personally, there has been more than one time I felt so overwhelmed and overcome were it not for God and his immeasurable grace I would not have been able to stand under it.
While I am sure you are thankful for a brief word study by the esteemed and underrated theologian Eli, I am sure you are also thinking why is this on my mind? Like many others, 2020 has not gone the way I anticipated. Like all of us, I didn’t plan on a pandemic and all of everything that has come along with that. I didn’t plan on three months of school at home, seven months of office closures, quarantine and decreased social interaction, or wearing a mask everywhere and at all times. I have had some frustration at work, missing out on some advancement opportunities. I missed out on some great jobs opportunities that I would have really enjoyed. There have been health difficulties for both my parents and in-laws, resulting in several surgeries for both. My grandmother passed away. And the proverbial icing on the cake… Ronda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, had a full hysterectomy, and is preparing for chemo treatments.
This feels more than I can manage. This doesn’t feel like I’m not being given more than I can handle. This very much feels like more than I can handle. But, I guess in reality it isn’t. Somehow I am handling it. Somehow Ronda is handling it. Somehow our boys are handling it. It feels very crushing and very overwhelming. It feels like I’m walking on the edge, barely able to keep from falling into the abyss.
But we make it through, each day we press on and push forward. A lot of what had made it possible to handle this difficult times is the outrageous amount of support we have had from friends and family. I am not able to express my gratitude to those who have rallied around us in this time. Knowing we have such a community behind us is a great comfort. Thank you.
I am also reminded of the words of Jesus, when he offered to carry our burdens, even in the difficult times when we are weary and overwhelmed:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30
This is very much a promise from him that he will carry us through the times we don’t think we can handle on our own. Even if God doesn’t promise he won’t give us more than we can handle, he has promised to carry the load for us.