Every so often I am astonished. The older one gets, the harder it is to be astonished. Everything seems so familiar, the problems are obvious, the answers are routine. I feel the same about entertainment. I’ve read that book, seen that movie, been there. Miley Cyrus? I merely felt sorry for her. She has lost her way. Shocking? Is anything shocking any longer? Stupid! Plenty of stupid.
Then I meet with people whose problems are immense. It makes me groan inside and wonder how my life escaped this kind of trauma for so long. I don’t deserve my relative peace but I am grateful for it. These people astonish me because I do not understand how they have managed to stand upright for so long? How did they deal with the heartache? How did they manage the unsolvable and seemingly hopeless problems they face very day? I’m supposed to help them. I must give them solutions. I don’t have any solutions.
Let me tell you some advice I do not ever give them. It isn’t true so I don’t give it. Yet there is a Bible verse that says it. Or does it?
I Corinthians 1013 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (NASB)
The Christian cliche that has it’s origins in this verse is: “God will not give you more than you can handle.” If I were a man who habitually cursed, then right here is where I would do so in utter disgust. Because this platitude is uttered to people who are suffering. That is a horrible, vicious, nasty, brutal thing to say to suffering people! It is an insult to the honor of God. It makes me want to spit! (since I don’t swear…) I never say it to people in pain.
Paul was not speaking of suffering. The verse is as clear as the pealing of a bell on a crisp morning. It is discussing TEMPTATION! The promise of God is that with every temptation, those who are His will always have a choice. We can say no. We are no longer slaves of sin. We can escape it’s grasp and endure it’s continuing allure. Many a time He has protected me from a temptation that would have swallowed me up like a bug flitting before the mouth of a frog. As I grew, I had to face down that temptation until I could defeat it. The timing of that facedown is in the hands of God. He has provided the means as well.
But suffering? We have always had suffering. Jesus defeated temptation but He did not escape suffering nor did He even try. Instead He walked towards it and picked it up and carried it with Him. Everyone suffers who lives on this earth and no one escapes it. It is the sharp edged reminder of the fall of man that secular society tries to pretend did not actually happen. Evil exists and suffering rules the earth. Explain?
Yet there is a mystery. Why do some people suffer more than others? IF we could only keep the level of agony to a minimum for ALL of us. That is the motivation behind the humanitarian works of the Christian world. We want to ease the wretchedness.
That is what I face in my counseling office. I try to help people figure out what to do. There must be something, somewhere an answer that will ease the pain?
So where is God in all this? He can remove suffering world wide with a gesture, a word and in an instant.
His answer is: Jesus. The suffering of Jesus on the cross was immeasurably more than any human has ever experienced at any time in the history of the world. It was impossible to describe it and so it was not described. Jesus understands human suffering in a deeply personal way. If He did not escape it then we will not but none of us will ever match His pain. There was no way of escape for Jesus. Very little was done to ease His torment. He refused pain killers! It killed Him. He allowed it to kill Him. For our sake. Jesus knows pain.
We ask “Why God?” He answers “Jesus! Then, now and forever. Jesus is the answer.”
Sin brought us pain. Sin and pain are joined and cannot be torn apart. Both must be destroyed. Jesus will come again and obliterate both of them. Hang on.
Revelation 2220 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (NASB)