Has anyone ever said that to you when hard times come into your life? My guess is your answer is a resounding “yes.” Just over the past few months I’ve heard it said to – and by – folks going through terrible health issues, financial problems, grief, or relationship fractures. It is meant to encourage – I guess – but it implies that if we just try hard enough and pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, we’ll get through whatever, because God thinks we are up to the task of “handling it.”
Well, guess what! God knows we are NOT up to the task of handling a great many things – and we know it, too, don’t we? The daily news is full of stories of people who yield to unbearable situations:
- ** Depression abounds, and some resort to suicide.
- ** Finances disappear, and some resort to crime.
- ** Relationships falter, and some resort to unfaithfulness.
- ** Catastrophic illness occurs, and some resort to soul-killing resignation and bitterness.
- ** Murder happens, and some resort to destructive revenge.
So, where in the world did this phrase come from? Is it really in the Bible, which would make it true? The internet has a number of articles and sermons which affirm this phrase as actually coming from the Bible. Well, it doesn’t! It just sort of sprang up as a re-combination of the words from this verse:
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (I Corinthians 10:13 – NKJV)
Let’s face it. When unbearable temptation comes upon me, God does not promise that my unbearable circumstance will change. He does promise to always make it possible for me to respond to it in constructive fashion.
This faulty phrase also blatantly states that it is God who actually gives me the unbearable stuff. Can we really think that God looks at “Joe” or “Sue” and decides to put incurable cancer into their bodies because “they can handle it?” Does He decide that a percentage of folks can “handle” desperate poverty, so He makes that happen? Does He decide that “Mary” can “handle” long-term singleness, so . . . well, you get the point.
You knew I had to apply this to singleness, didn’t you?
Some think that protracted singleness is unfair and just too heavy a burden to bear and they will take any way to make marriage happen. Sometimes that works out well, sometimes not. Some come to see God as One who withholds and not One who provides. OK – I plead guilty to having these thoughts at times as I have committed to live life according to Scriptural principles – and have always been single.
- Doing life alone is too heavy to bear!
- Living a celibate life before marriage is unfair and just too heavy to bear!
- God doesn’t care about my feelings, and that is indeed too heavy to bear!
Living with these three elements in the context of a Jesus-follower-life can be difficult. But, I have experienced the truth of God’s provision in the midst of the varied mix of unanswered desires and joy-filled living.
- ** There is promise of God’s always being with me!
- Hebrews 13:5 . . . God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (NIV)
- ** Jesus shares every aspect of my life – heavy and light!
- Matthew 28:28-29 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. (NIV)
- ** He considers all my feelings to the depths!
- I Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (NLT)
So, my dear friends – unmarried and married: Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)