God’s word does not teach that you will never be called on to suffer more than you can endure. Sorry.
Instead of promising that your suffering will always be bearable, the Bible promises that you will not be tempted beyond your ability to endure. There is a difference. Listen to the apostle Paul:
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.
So, while there may not always be an assured escape from our suffering, God does promise to provide an escape from our temptation. Well thanks a lot! Does the God who inspired the Bible actually take the problem of temptation more seriously than the problem of pain?
Let that question settle in.
I’ll ask another way. Does God know that temptation is a bigger threat to drive us away from faith in Him than suffering is?
Let’s face it. It was from sin more than from suffering that Jesus came to set us free. Listen to the apostle John: “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins” (1 John 3:5). And to do that, He suffered greatly.
Jesus understood the problem of temptation. In his parable of the soils, the “rocky” soil represented those who joyfully receive God’s word but fall away in the face of temptation (Luke 8:13). Satan tried his temptation tactics on Jesus directly in the desert, without success. Jesus advised His disciples to pray thusly: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13). Near the end, as Jesus agonized in the garden of Gethsemane, he warned his sleepy disciples on the dangers of temptation, saying; “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:4). I’ll say it is!
How about you? Do you have a problem with temptation?
I hope so.
Why would I hope so? Because the people without a problem with temptation are usually those who just let it win. Temptation is a serious problem only for those who actually don’t want to sin. Oscar Wilde testified to the easy out, saying, “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it… I can resist everything but temptation.”
I prefer C.S. Lewis. In his classic Mere Christianity, he wrote, “Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.” Lewis observed this when World War II was raging (1942-44). He continued, “You find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in.”
But Germany is not the enemy now. Rather, it is lies, self-righteousness, lust, greed, laziness, profanity, stinginess, adultery, narcissism, homosexuality, abortion, gossip and hate. These enemies are much closer to home and they are winning far too many battles lately. It’s high time to fight back!
I hope you see temptation as a serious problem because I believe in God’s promise that you will not face temptation beyond that which He can help you to endure. But we do need His help, badly! Only those willing get God’s help in our battle with evil impulses make progress toward the good.
Let’s give C.S. Lewis the last word: “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.”