2 Corinthians 1:3-11 – We Can’t Handle It
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 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. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-11ESV
Have you ever heard the saying, “God will never give you more than you can handle”? If you’re like me, you’ve heard it more times than you can count. A lot of people believe this is actually a quote from the Bible, and it’s often stated in the face of horrific, challenging circumstances that seem insurmountable, intended as a word of comfort to “bolster” us against the hardship.
The problem with this statement is life will absolutely give you more than you can endure. Someday you will find yourself like Job in Job 16, sitting in the ashes of your life. There will be no easy out, no escape route from the agony, just the inevitable struggle stretching ahead of you to the horizon. If in that moment, all we have is “God will never give you more than you can handle”…what hopeless despair is our only gift from God! What rage would rise up in you to hollow you out inside and leave you empty! If that statement is true, God has burned our world down around us and left us up to our necks in the ashes of what we once loved intentionally. He destroys us and demands we handle the fallout alone. What a callous judge!
Imagine being the parent of one of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Imagine finding out it was your child the gunman found; it is your precious youngster, whom you still remember reaching out to you with sparkling eyes and a big smile as they stumble through their first steps, who will never come to your arms again. Imagine the heart-rending agony…and in the face of this statement you understand the God of the Universe conspired to murder your child and expects you to drag yourself from the cesspool of loss by your own sweat and labor. Such a God stands back from our spinning, blue globe and strikes us down, then with crossed arms observes us struggle through with judgement in a heart that feels no compassion.
Praise be to God this is not the God of the Bible. Christian…this is not the God we follow. This statement never appears in the Bible, either directly or through inference. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, our God is exactly the opposite of this smiting, demanding, disappointed, cosmic parent. Our God is “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:3b-4a).
When our world burns down around us, our mighty God isn’t the one holding the match and gas can, nor looking at us in frowning expectation this is “within our grasp” to handle. Our God, rather, enters into the pain with us. He suffers with us. He sends His people, His Church, as His arms of love and support as we experience a snapshot of Hell on earth (2 Corinthians 1:4). He knows we cannot handle the agony of this life alone, nor are we designed to (Genesis 2:18). Fall into the arms of the Creating, Father God we worship. Lean on His strength. He is the “God, who raises the dead”. His nail-scarred hands are there, no matter what, not to deliver affliction…but to carry us through it.
- Have you ever been told “God will never give you more than you can handle”? How did you feel when you were told that?
- Why do you think so many people think this phrase is in the Bible, when it’s easy to discover it is not?
- What difference would it make in a difficult situation to know God is there through it?
- Challenge for the week: we all have at least one friend or loved one going through hardship. How can you be the “comfort of God” to that person this week?