This well-meaning phrase has been used to offer encouragement and strength to someone walking through dark valleys, suffering in pain, or burdened down with the weight of circumstances beyond their control. I’ve said it, I’ve even believed it; after all, how could a loving God give his child something He knows is impossible for them to bear? He knows us, He loves us, and He is aware of our limitations, right? So whatever He gives, He must know we can bear it, right?
And besides, even His own Word says this…somewhere…I’m sure I read it, or heard someone interpret it…or did I?
Here it is: 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.
Hmmmm…well, this is interesting…this isn’t talking about trials, or burdens, or valleys. This is talking about God not tempting his children, or letting them be tempted above their ability to bear it or escape it.
I guess, loosely translated, it could be made to say that my temptation to doubt God, His love, His power, or His providence will not be more than I can bear. But it doesn’t say anything about the weight of a burden, or number of circumstances, or darkness of valleys.
Whew! What a relief…because in the midst of my storms, it’s tempting to doubt God’s awareness of my burden. It’s tempting to doubt His promise to never leave, never forsake. He didn’t forget His promise, He is just not bound to my limited understanding of something I heard He said. In fact, reading through the scriptures, there are plenty of places where God gave His children more than they could handle. Hebrews 11, aka “The Hall of Faith” is full of examples of mere men who did things impossible in human strength. And, lest we forget, even God’s only begotten Son couldn’t carry his own cross It was more than He could bear, and He fell under the very weight of it.
One of my invisible friends, Sherry said it very eloquently this morning. Her words were like a balm to my aching, questioning heart.
…I learned how nonsensical the saying “God doesn’t give you more than you can bear” really is. Sure he does. He knows when He is doing it, and He does not leave us alone to carry it. SO many times that year, ONE MORE THING would happen and I would say, “I can’t DO this, I cant handle ONE MORE THING, I just can NOT.” I swear to you, He said to me each time, and I HEARD HIM, “I know it is too much, but there is no one else who can do this for me right now. Lean on me, I will help you, I will not leave you alone, but there is no one else and I need you to do this for me. Come, I will help you.” … People have said to me many times, “I don’t know how you got through that”. Well, I do. I trusted in the One who said, “You have to do this, but I will help you.”
Sherry’s words are biblically sound. We’re instructed to come to Jesus, weary and burdened down (Matt 11:28), cast that burden and all our anxieties on the Lord (Ps 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7). He KNOWS our frame, He knows the weight that is on us, and He wants to bear it with us…He invites us to share it with Him, and His invitation comes with precious promises. “I care for you, I will give you rest, I will sustain you” This takes it all off of us, and puts it all on Him. We are not left as orphans, we are not forsaken, He comes to us.
And maybe this is His secret way of turning our eyes back to Him. A way to make us realize our limitations so He can show us his infinite power and strength. Maybe without these trials, we wouldn’t know our need for Him, wouldn’t need Him. Maybe the burden isn’t the point, maybe it’s still all about Him.