In my life I have seen many good God fearing people suffer. My nana lived in pain every second of her life for years. She developed an open wound on her leg that would not heal. Her pain was so bad that at night her neighbors said they could hear her crying out to God and asking why. I am sure she felt like God had forsaken her. As her granddaughter all I could do was sit back and listen to her question why God would allow such pain. But even in all her pain her faith in God was never more steadfast as it was at this time.
One of the most over used phrases people say to someone when they are going through a trial is “God will never give you more than you can handle.” What exactly does that mean? Handle mentally, physically, emotionally? In fact the scripture used to make this quote is not for trial or spiritual battles, but fleshly temptations.
1 Cor 10: 13 "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."
If you look to the Old Testament for those who were put through trials you will find many of them were more than they could handle in all three ways. The first person we think of is Job.
Job 2:3 "Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason."
This shows us that God allowed trials to come upon Job. He was “blameless and upright” he had done nothing wrong to deserve punishment. As God’s children we often go through things. We may have done nothing wrong to deserve it, but it happens. When Job asked God why, God never gave him an answer. Instead he asked Job questions in return. Not just one or two questions, but about fifty of them, all affirming his sovereignty. I can imagine Jobs frustration with God. The Bible does not go into detail about Jobs thoughts or feeling in his time of loss. In my mind I see Job at his ten children’s funeral, seven sons and three daughters, and grieving greatly. In my mind I put this picture in modern times. I know it is not how things were done in that day, but could you imagine a father finding all of his children under the rubble of a house that had been wrecked by a tornado or even a hurricane? You see images of Midwestern states when storms blow through and the devastation. After picking them out from his home that collapsed on them he had to pick out 10 caskets (yes I know it was done differently then, bear with me), ten burial plots and watch ten of them put into the ground. There is no pain greater than losing a child, let alone ten all at once. The word says he had already lost his livestock and servants. Today that would be like losing your job, your 401k and any savings you had for the future. Job’s wife told him to curse God and his friends pointed to his every flaw and turned their back on him.
So was this more than Job could handle? I think the answer is yes! Any time that we question God it is more than we can handle. God did not create us to handle or even understand all the trials of this life.
Ephesians 6:12 NIV “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
The battle in the book of Job was beacause nothing Job did, he did not understand it, and he could not see it. There are battles we struggle with in our life that we fail to understand, but it is ok not to understand. If God wanted Job to know what was going on in the spiritual realm, he would have told him.
How do we get through the battle we cannot see? When the Children of Israel were in the desert and scared of death they were told NOT TO BE AFRAID, THE LORD WILL FIGHT FOR YOU, YOU ONLY NEED TO BE STILL. Many times when we go through trials the first thing we do is allow fear to swallow us, we freak out and try to do everything we can think of to fix the situation.
To prepare for a war we are told to put on the full armor so we can stand against the enemy’s schemes.
Eph 6:14-18 “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
Stay firm in your faith, be ready for what may come, read the word, pray, seek God’s face. When others speak against God and his power, speak truth. Have faith that God is fighting this for you. I have found in my own situations to speak the impossible. Don’t limit God to a box on what he can or will do.
Many trials are more than we can handle in our flesh. Our hearts hurt, our minds are overloaded and we question. I am not perfect, I don’t claim to have every answer, but I do know God is in control. Even if my human side cannot take what is before me, let this be my prayer:
Psalms 73:21-28 “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”
In fact the Bible does not promise a problem free life. At every corner in the word are hardships. 1 Peter 1:7 tells us these trials have come so that your faith, which is worth more than gold, will be put to the test. The Bible actually likens them to fire by which we are refined. It is through the hard times and struggles that we may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor and then Jesus is revealed.
In the times of great suffering my nana went through God’s glory was great. Often her neighbors would ask her about her situation. When she directed every conversation back to God and his goodness people began to want to know more. They would come and sit in her living room and ask her questions about God. She would pray with them and teach them about salvation. There were many she prayed with and even a few she baptized in their own bathtubs. Through her suffering Jesus was revealed. How is he being revealed in your trial?