“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it”1 Corinthians 10:13
Daddy, can I help you?” It was my four-year-old son, Matt, who was watching me carry cartons of empty pop bottles to the car. Back then you could return them for a dime apiece, so after months of stacking them up in the garage, I was off to collect the cash bonanza.
I said, “Sure, Matt,” and he picked up a carton of bottles and put them in the car. When we got to the store, he grabbed his carton of bottles and shuffled along next to me across the big parking lot. About half way to the store, obviously exhausted, he looked up and said, “Dad, I can’t carry this anymore.”
Count on it, I didn’t say, “Listen, Kid, you started this, so pick up that carton right now and finish what you started!” Of course not!
I took the carton out of his hands, because I knew it was too heavy for him to handle. As his earthly father, I understood what his limits were and helped him carry the load.
Thankfully, our heavenly Father understands our load limit and comes alongside to help. It’s hard to stick it out during difficult times when the trouble in our lives seems far too heavy and there is no end in sight. It’s in times like these that we feel like giving up—like we can’t go on. But God’s Word reminds us that “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 stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). It’s important to note that this verse is talking about more than just bearing up under temptation. In the original Greek, the word temptation actually means “all kinds of trials.”
Ever feel like you’re in the middle of all kinds of trials? The problem with problems is that they have a tendency to drain us of our strength—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And that’s when our adversary likes to launch his attack. When we’re weak, he haunts us with thoughts like: How could a loving God allow this to happen? andGod has brought you to this place and has just left you here. Or, You’re beyond help—God can’t help you now. But when you start thinking these thoughts, you need to know that they are flat out lies from the pit. You can be sure that they don’t reflect God’s heart for you during difficult times.
In the Old Testament, one of God’s names is Jehovah Jireh—our provider—and He always lives up to His name. He stands ready to provide abundant grace so that we can bear up until He has finished His work in the trial (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). He gives us a peace that passes understanding as we trust and rely on Him with a grateful heart (Philippians 4:6-7). He gives wisdom to see our tough times from His point of view (James 1:5). He gives us the assurance that He will stick it out with us and not leave or forsake us, so that we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What man can do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).
So, chin up! Our troubles and trials have not escaped the notice of the One who comes alongside to help when it seems like the load is too much to bear.
The One who knows your load limit promises to limit your load!
|DECEMBER 26, 2014
I Can’t Do Everything
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me … For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9,10b (NIV)
“I don’t want to go bowling,” I said hearing a cringe-inducing whine creep into my voice.
While my entire extended family enthusiastically prepared for a fun outing, I was dragging my feet. In reality, I don’t dislike bowling terribly. I just really, really, REALLY don’t like doing things I’m not good at. And I’m terrible at bowling.
Avoidance or quitting is my natural default.
Our self-esteem driven culture says, “You can do anything you want!”
But the truth is I can’t do everything.
My dream as a little girl was to be a platinum award-winning pop star. I sang into my hairbrush and made sure I stood on the stage for every talent show my school held. But no matter how much I practiced, my heart-felt but average singing was met with tepid applause and sympathetic pats on the back from my friends.
Yes, if I’d been born just a little later, I would be one of the pitiful audition examples on American Idol — a contestant who’s convinced she’s great while the rest of the world watches with wide eyes and gasps. My family, the world’s greatest encouragers, would be at home cheering wildly while the rest of the world muttered, “Bless her heart!”
No matter how many lessons I take or how much I practice, I’m never going to progress from the choir loft to the stadium stage. It’s just not going to happen.
Singing isn’t a gift God has given me, and I don’t feel His leading to take a leap offaith. If I were to audition, it would be foolish, because it would be a risk taken from my own desires and based on an unrealistic assessment of my gifts. Simply put, there’s a clear difference between a foolish risk and an inspired risk.
I think it’s great for us to understand our limits. But I have another issue that’s not so great. It’s my propensity to give up too quickly when things get hard … when I’m challenged to do something I’m not already good at.
Recently I’ve been challenged to complete the most difficult process of my professional life. I’ve worked and struggled and fallen more times than I’d like to count. Day after day I’ve wanted to quit. And I’ve become painfully aware that this assignment is too big for me.
But this assignment is an inspired risk. It’s based on the beginnings of a gift God has placed in me and on His clear calling.
So I’ve spent time on my knees asking God for direction and just a little more fortitude.
He has faithfully encouraged me. God continues to point out He not only opened the door of opportunity, He surrounded me with others to help me develop this embryo of a gift.
Instead of doing what our culture does, passing out false praise and “you can do anything’s,” God has instructed me to rejoice that I’m really not good enough …
To do it without Him.
To accomplish it without the help of others.
To finish without perseverance (which produces character, and character hope, Romans 5:3-5).
Sometimes, when we’re given a task beyond ourselves, we just need to rejoice. It’s a good thing we’re really not good enough. It’s in those times of struggle, failure and ultimately growth that we find out God is enough.
Lord, teach me to rejoice in the difficult assignments, because it’s there I come to the end of my own abilities and learn to lean on Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)
1 Corinthians 1:25, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (NIV)
Those who follow Jesus’ commandment entirely, who let Jesus’ yoke rest on them without resistance, will find the burden they must bear to be light. In the gentle pressure of this yoke they will receive the strength to walk the right path without becoming weary.…Where will the call to discipleship lead those who follow it? What decisions and painful separations will it entail? We must take this question to him who alone knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows where the path will lead. But we know that it will be a path full of mercy beyond measure. Discipleship is joy.
Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28–30
Questions to Ponder
- What is Jesus’ “commandment” that we are to follow? (See John 15:12)
- If this commandment is Jesus’ “yoke,” how might we be changed if we bear it without resistance?
- Why might following Jesus’ commandment lead to tough “decisions and painful separations”?
Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long. Psalm 25:4–5
- To be a disciple is not just to believe in Jesus, it is to follow Jesus. In your journal, reflect on the ways in which you are presently following Jesus.
- Do you experience your discipleship as “joy”? Is the “burden” of your discipleship “light”?
- Do you sense there are places Jesus might want to lead you where you would rather not go? If so, where are they and what is holding you back?
Pray specifically for family, friends, and colleagues that they might clearly hear the call to discipleship (which is the call to love and justice), and that they might experience following Jesus’ commandment as joy in the concrete realities of their lives.
Prayer for Today
Lord Jesus, only you know where my path will lead, but I trust that, even if I do not know either the way or the destination, you are with me and before me, and I follow you with joy.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint ofAugsburg Fortress.