During times of great suffering and heartache, in an effort to say something comforting, I have heard people say: “You must be a very strong person, because God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle” or “God gives his toughest battles to the strongest ones.” I have heard it said to others, its been said to me, and I know I have said it as well in the past.
But this statement is false. It is a lie.
This way of thinking can not be reconciled with the written Word of God; it is not truth, but twisted scripture.
To encourage someone in their suffering that they must be a “strong person”; to say that God would not allow this awful thing to happen to them unless He knew they could “handle it”, is the opposite spirit of what God is allowing to happen to them. He has a purpose in the pain (Isiah 66:9 NCV). It shifts the focus from God’s eternal strength to help us and have us rely on Him, to focusing rather on our own abilities. This way of thinking creates a false sense of internal strength and self-sufficiency. It is the exact opposite of the work God is doing in our hearts.
The Bible shows us that with temptation we will be able to endure because God will give us a way out of it (1 Corinthians 10:13). But with troubles, it can be far beyond our ability to endure so that we rely on God and not ourselves (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
Satan came to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). He is a thief and he is very active in subtly attempting to steal the Word of God from our hearts (Matthew 13:19). A slight word change, a shift in perspective, a misuse of the truth (Matthew 4:1-11), a misrepresentation, a gentle twisting of words is all it takes for the robbing of truth.
In Christian circles we sometimes hear the same recycled taglines to the point that we believe them to gospel.
This is one of them.
We are destroyed from lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Our ability to experience the fullness of all Christ died to give back to us and our ability to overcome the darkness in our lives is destroyed by our lack of our knowledge of God’s Word – the very Words that save us because his Word’s are life (John 14:6).
THE TRIAL OF TEMPTATION
So where does this false statement come from that God does not give us more than we can handle or endure? It is the switching of truth from the truth that God will not tempt us beyond what we can bear:
“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.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
God does not tempt us, but we are lured and tempted by our own desires (James 1:12-16). God allows us to be tempted, but He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear – He will provide a way out of it so we can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). Temptation is a test to prove that we are faithful and obedient to Christ’s commands. Temptation can cover all aspects of sin, and God will allow this testing of us to prove us genuine.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.” James 1:12-16
Some troubles we encounter are as a direct result of the temptation we failed to overcome, as our sin has consequences. While temptation is a form of “trial” in the bible, it cannot be compared to trials that come to us that could be out of our ability to avoid. Temptation has nothing to do with the agony of losing a child, it has nothing to do with the ache felt while divorce papers are signed; it has nothing to do with the sting of rejection, constant attack from mean people. loss of a job, a home ruined by natural disaster, or the pain of a physically broken or diseased body.
BROUGHT TO THE END OF OURSELVES
It is Scriptural to be brought to the end of oneself so that we no longer rely on our own abilities. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, the Apostle Paul writes (my emphasis added):
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”
When we experience hard times in all its forms, there are varying reasons why we are enduring the trouble. The root is not always obvious, which is why we need the Holy Spirit to help diagnose our hardship. When we seek God and come near to Him, He will reveal the course of action we are to take to come out of the valley we are in, or make peace in the place we find ourselves until God gives us the green light to move on.
Sometimes God’s answer may not be what we were hoping for, but there will always be His peace that will accompany it (Philippians 4:4-7). The Apostle Paul sought the Lord three times to take away his torment (2 Corinthians 12:6-9) but God knew Paul needed to remain weak in this area of his life so that God could exert His power through Paul’s weakness. God also did this to ensure Paul remained humble and not proud due to the “surpassingly great revelations” he was receiving from the Lord. The momentary torment Paul endured in his lifetime and the work that perseverance did in him due to his trials (Romans 5:1-5) would be eclipsed by the eternal spiritual gain.
God will use all of our hardships to foster growth in us, to break our self-reliance, and to discipline us (Hebrews 12:6-7). There are no cookie-cutter answers for the root of everyone’s trouble. There are however, two main sources and reasons troubles can come to us:
- Judgement & Discipline due to unrepented sin, and a reaping of the consequences of that sin.
- Spiritual Attack from Satan that God will use for His purposes to mature and test us so that our faith is proved genuine
JUDGEMENT & DISCIPLINE DUE TO UNREPENTANT SIN
Sometime we are experiencing emotional and physical agony because of the reaping of unrepented sin (Galatians 6:7-9). Because of our sin that remains, we left a foothold and opportunity for the devil to have legal access to us (Ephesians 4:26-27). God will use the trial though to draw out our sin, and draw us to Him so he can correct and restore us. We may also be receiving judgment from God as a result of our sin – 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 is key in understanding this truth:
“So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.” 1 Corinthians 11:27-32
We also see that Jesus connected the physical ailment of the paralyzed man with his sin, and his healing was linked with the forgiveness of his sin (Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:5-9; Luke 5:17-26). On another occasion though, with the man who was born blind, Jesus specifically stated that the man’s blindness was not related to any sin (John 9:1-7).
Remember that God will accept us where ever we are at – unconditionally, we are loved. We all came to Christ as unworthy sinners, however, God loves us too much to leave us in our sin, and He will discipline us so that we are not condemned with the world. But when we become believers and are washed by the blood of Jesus Christ we are made new – we are no longer sinners, but a royal and holy nation (1 Peter 2:9) who are to consider ourselves dead to sin (1 Peter 2:23-25).
Sin may still dwell in us (Romans 7:15-20; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Isaiah 64:6), but it is no longer our “master” (Romans 6:14). Sin and being a “sinner” is no longer our identity, character or habit (1 John 3:9). The Holy Spirit will guard our mouth (Psalm 141:3), we are to keep a tight reign on our tongue (James 1:2-6; James 3:1-12; Proverbs 21:23; Ephesians 4:29; 1 Peter 3:10; Proverbs 18:21; Proverbs 10:19; Matthew 12:33-37; Matthew 15:11; Titus 3:2) and our thought life (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) as this will keep us from sinning. Should we sin, and repent, there is forgiveness, but we are no longer continual and habitual sinners (1 John 3:6-7).
SPIRITUAL ATTACK & OUR FAITH PROVED GENUINE
God will allow us to go through trials so that our faith may be proved genuine (1 Peter 1:6-8, Job 1:1-22). God wants us to walk through the fire so to speak so that we will be refined; so that our strength, obedience, patience, and perseverance will be built up in Him and not in ourselves. God’s purposes for our earthly troubles are eternity motivated (Romans 5:1-5).
In Daniel 3:1-30, God did not save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fire. He required them to go through it. But, Jesus was there with them protecting them and He walked with them through it, and out of it unscathed. Triumph came out of tragedy and we gained a valuable spiritual lesson from these three giants in the faith. Their faith was proved genuine, to the point of death, and many came to know the one true God because of who they boldly put their trust in.
In 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 we learned earlier that Paul, a mighty man of God, was tormented by a “messenger of Satan” – an actual evil entity, sent by Satan to create hardships, trouble, and irritations for Paul – the “thorn in his side.” Paul makes it clear in 2 Corinthians 11:24-26 that the enemy was buffeting him at every corner with whippings, beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, hunger, nakedness, and danger from the elements and people. Despite the enemy’s intent to stop the Word of God being taken to the nations by Paul, God had His own intent in allowing the attacks on Paul to remain so that Paul would not become conceited or pride filled, but remain humble.
How many attacks have we encountered because God was allowing it to remain to keep our character flaws in check, to keep us humble, or holy, or compassionate?
Other times, our trials are an attack from the spiritual dark forces of this world (Ephesians 6:12), and by no fault of our own, no opening of a door to give the devil a foothold by careless words and thoughts (Ephesians 4:26-27), our agony is crafted by an agenda of the enemy to defeat us. There are a whole host of reasons why the enemy would seek to attack us, but quite simply it comes down to the fact that he hates us because we are image bearers of Christ. Because we have been redeemed we also know that no weapon formed against us by the enemy will prosper or prevail (Isaiah 54:14-17), and as believers, it is our heritage – our inheritance and vindication to refute the attack.
The attack could be in the form of a curse spoken by careless, hateful words about us by people that do not realize the power of their words, or it could be an attempt for the enemy to instill fear in us and to thwart our destiny. The attack could also be a generational curse that has remained on our family line that has never been seen with spiritually opened eyes and broken off in the power of the name of Jesus Christ. This can sometimes be the case when we see the same physical ailments, illnesses, and addictions and repeat themselves through each generation.
Galatians 3:13 clarifies that we have been redeemed by Christ from the curse of the law, which includes generations sin and curses. These generations curses, and repeated sins within family lines have been broken by Jesus. The reason these curses still remain is because we do not yet realize we have the authority to remind the enemy that he has no legal right or access to us anymore. Many of us are motionless, standing shackled by already unlocked shackles. We need only claim the victory already won and secured by Jesus and kick off the shackles.
UNAWARE OF THE AUTHORITY WE CARRY
Sometime we are enduring pain that is unnecessary. We keep asking God to take it away from us, save us, fix it, change that other person’s behavior…but nothing is happening because we are praying improperly. Sometimes our prayers appear un-answered because we are unaware that God already did for us all that He needed to do so that we could overcome what overwhelms us: He gave us power and authority in Jesus’ name to stand on our own feet, with the garrisons of heaven behind us to defeat the enemy. Jesus died on the cross for many reasons, and one of them was so that our dominion on earth would be restored. Some trials that originate as an attack from the enemy linger longer than they ever should have because we were unaware of the authority we carry because we carry Jesus in us. God wants to give us all the wisdom and discernment to proactively root out the enemy, and to know when we already have the authority to strike or when we need to hold on in prayer for further direction from Him (Mark 9:29 NKJV).
Unless we evict the enemy from swatting on our land, he will never leave. Thankfully that eviction notice was signed and sealed with the blood of Jesus Christ. When we are experiencing unjustifiable hardship, these are the times we need to stand in the strength Jesus died to give us and remind the enemy that he is already defeated and that He has to leave in Jesus’ name (Revelation 12:11). When we submit ourselves to God, He will give us the strength to resist the devil, and the devil will flee (James 4:7). And while Satan may have come at us from one direction, he will scatter in seven different directions to get away from us (Deuteronomy 28:7).
Even though spiritual attack and trials initially appear to be unnecessary, God will not waste any of the pain we experienced. There is power our personal testimony to help others triumph, heal, avoid and overcome.
TESTIMONY BIRTHED FROM TRIAL
God will allow us to be placed in trying situations for the sole purpose of positioning us to be an effective witness, as God has designed our testimony that will come out of the trial to help, edify and encourage others and ourselves. Testimonies are birthed from trials. Our personal testimony overcomes the devil (Revelations 12:11), and brings the Word of God to life for others in ways that they many not have understood before.
Sometimes we are bearing the weight of a burden solely for God’s purpose for someone else. I knew a woman many years ago in the 1980’s that had wrongfully been diagnosed with a mental disorder and was placed in a mental institute. I’ll call her Esther. She grumbled to our pastor that an injustice was done to her, that they had no right placing her there, that it was all a mistake. Our pastor counseled her wisely, and said – and I’m paraphrasing: “How do you know that this trouble is not for you, but for someone else’s benefit. God could be strategically placing you there. Open your eyes and ask for God’s perspective.” Esther did just that, and the Lord showed her she was to minister to a specific person within the mental institution. She did, and that person came to the Lord and received salvation, and within a matter of days Esther was released from the institution with an apology for their misunderstanding and mistake. What was their mistake was God’s intention in finding one of His lost children.
EQUIPPED WITH KNOWLEDGE
Once we are aware of the ways we can encounter and suffer trouble, and the spiritual reasons behind our pain, we are better equipped to seek God for the best course of action, and we will no longer perish from lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).