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Join Awaken Church as we read the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs in 2020. Download the #AwakenBible2020 plan at awaken.church/bible2020.

Each week I share a thought from the previous week’s reading here.

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“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

You must have read that on a coffee mug or someone’s well-intentioned cliche wall art because I promise you didn’t find that in the Bible!

The closest thing you’ll find is 1 Corinthians 10:13 about how God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able. Read through 1 Corinthians 10, then flip a few chapters to the right to 2 Corinthians 1…

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (ESV)

I don’t know the details of what happened to them in Asia, but I can say this for sure: it was more than they could handle. It was so extreme in fact that they “despaired of life itself.” Translation: they were sure they were going to die.

Jesus never promised a problem-free life. In fact, He promised the opposite (John 16:33). For the past few millennia, people of faith have regularly found themselves in situations that were far beyond what they could handle (Joseph in prison, Daniel with the lions, David and a giant, Jonah and the Ninevites…). Pain and trouble are nothing new to God’s people.

But Paul didn’t relay that truth to the Corinthians to gain their pity or to make himself look like a hero. He recounted the story in order to refocus their attention: “…that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

The point of the pain was a realigning of their faith. Their near death experience forced them to trust God to provide and protect. Expect the pressure, then align your focus. Life will often give you more than you can handle, but it will never be more than God can handle.