Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Temptation vs. Circumstance

Let’s just jump right in! Did you know that the cliché saying of “God will never give you more than you can handle” is not even Scriptural? How many times have we said that to someone going through a hardship or had that said to us during a time when we were in dire need of encouragement? I grew up in church, heard this all my life and have said it more times than I can count. How could it not be true?

Well, about 2 weeks ago we had a family incident (or 2) occur, and I began to ponder this thought really hard, this supposed Scripture reference. I was at a breaking point, and I had no problem telling God “this” (my circumstance) was more than I could handle. It didn’t make sense to me…that is until yesterday when I realized that the origin of this statement found in 1 Cor. 10:13 was grossly taken out of context. There I was reminding God of something He never said (or inspired)! Talk about a smack on the wrist! I soon felt the need to delve a little further. Stay with me…

Here is what the King James Version states:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Let’s compare with NIV for a better understanding:
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

So, how in the world did we as Christians derive “God will never give you more than you can handle” from that? When read in the context of the verses before it, Paul is speaking in reference to TEMPTATIONS like idolatry, sexual immorality, complaining, etc. {Yes, complaining} He is saying that God will not PERMIT us to be tempted without the opportunity to choose a different option as well. Just to clarify…God is NOT the one doing the tempting, but He IS the one that will show you a way out…so that you don’t experience more than you can handle and be forced to succumb to the temptation for lack of another choice.

Here’s the kicker. NOWHERE does 1 Cor. 10:13 mention anything about CIRCUMSTANCES. For example: the death of a loved one, job loss, divorce, hurtful accusations, trials or worse…circumstances that we create in a moment of weakness from the temptations He tried to save us from. Yet those are the things we assume or hope to be encompassed in that Scripture reference, but nope…it ONLY covers temptation. Sorry to burst your bubble; I felt the same way. However, there IS good news…

The Bible does specifically reference circumstances and how we are to deal with them…just not in that passage. If we do a little research, the Scriptures state that we should cast our cares on the Lord, go to Him when we are weary and weak, and He will renew our strength and give us rest (1 Pet 5:7, Matt. 11:28-29, Is. 40:29-31, Ps. 55:22). In that, there is hope.

So, while our circumstances may actually be more than we can handle (alone), God is there to lend a hand and carry some of that burden. It’s really just a matter of trust. Quite honestly though, sometimes it is hard for me to let go. But when I do there is such peace, and I can finally breathe. After all, He does have my best interest at heart and works EVERYTHING out for my good. Always. And that is usually when I start quoting Jer. 29:11 and Romans 8:28 to convince myself! Lol.

This revelation was so eye-opening for me, and I pray that it does the same for you. It has finally provided clarity and understanding on a topic that I apparently knew very little about. So, my new goal is not to get so caught up in age old “Christianese” sayings that I inadvertently misquote Scripture without digging a little deeper. I mean, if I am going to “remind” God of his Word, then I better know what He said first!