When I first became a Christ Follower it wasn’t long before I was thrown right into ministry. I had only been a Christian for about six months and was attending church in central Florida when in a matter of months I ended up becoming the youth pastor there. The church was growing and our senior pastor was kind of an up and coming star. I still had a full time job and was working at the church part time and our youth service was expanding at a rapid pace. Being relatively new to church and even more new leading a youth group, I was pretty excited about the way things were going.
Unbeknownst to everyone though, our senior pastor was dealing with some serious moral failings in his life. He ended up confessing to the church elders about what was going on and they sent him back to his hometown for a time of restoration, but they made the mistake of not telling the congregation what had happened. Instead they said he was taking a year sabbatical to focus on family and an associate pastor would lead the church for the time being.
When the senior pastor never came back and still no one knew the reason he had left, speculation arose and rumors started go around that the associate pastor has staged a coup. Factions started and the church split. The fighting and division went on for close to two years and it was some of the worst years of my life. People who were previously my friends turned their backs on me and said horrible things about me and the rest of the staff and the church shrank. Any desires I had to pursue ministry were starting to wane and, while all this was going on, I lost my full time job and was out of work for months.
I know other people who have experienced similar moments in their lives where they felt like things couldn’t get any worse, and then they do. Just a few years ago people were hurting when the housing bubble burst, and shortly after that the financial crisis hit. People lost their house, their job, their business or all three.
During these extremely hard times you might have a well-meaning person say something to you to try and make you feel better like, “Hang in there. God will not give you more than you can handle,” and in that moment it doesn’t seem to hold up to what’s going on in your life. The question I have is, is that true? Will God not really give me more than I can handle? Is that even in the Bible?
Lets’ look at where this “urban myth” came from. The closest thing we have in the Bible to this phrase is in 1 Corinthians 10:13 where Paul writes:
“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.”
There are a couple things we can take away from this verse. First is that Paul isn’t talking about troubles or hard times, he’s talking about temptation. And going through temptation or reaping the consequences of it can be hard, but he’s basically saying there is no temptation you face that everyone on Earth hasn’t faced before. Even Jesus faced temptation. Sin likes to make you feel isolated in your troubles, like your misery is specific to you, but there is no temptation we aren’t equipped to face.
The second thing to notice is there is no mention of God giving you temptation or troubles. God isn’t making bad things happen to you just to see how you react. The truth is that we live in a messed up world and we are bound to have hard times, but that is why we have Jesus. He is our way of escape. That’s why in John 16:33 He told his disciples “...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
So Jesus said that we will have trouble in this world, but I think what we have to remember is that it’s not God that gives them to us, but He does equip us to overcome them.
Pastor Eric Partin is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church in Destin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.