Are you feeling like Life is a trial at the moment? Are you wondering how much God will ask you to bear? Are you feeling at the end of your tether and hoping God will realise you can’t do or take any more?
If so, then you may be relying on the wrong scripture!
In 1 Corinthians 10.13, we are told that God will not let us be tested beyond our strength and will always provide a way out. Sadly, we often take this verse in isolation from that which has gone before. We often think of the tests as the struggles of life. But, those tests (or trials in some versions) are actually sins or wrongdoing, not the everyday struggles of life. In the previous verses, Paul describes and warns us about the sin of the Israelites as they journeyed through the desert after escaping from Egypt. They needed restoration and God had to re-work their identity after so many years of being subsumed into Egyptian culture. And in that transition they did succumb to the temptation to sin. They made their own idols, they worshipped other gods, they indulged in immoral and lustful acts. They were presented with the opportunity to do these things, so they were tempted or tested. Paul is talking of the tests of temptation and sin. Sadly, the Israelites, instead of saying no, recognising that these things were not how the people of God should behave and choosing God’s ways, too often chose to sin. God always provides a way out of sin. That way is Jesus. When you are tempted, then, instead of going for it and sinning, think of Jesus on the cross, remember that he died by your sins (and mine), and choose instead to step back, to turn away from the temptation of sin and to turn to God. Jesus is the way out of sin.
So, God does provide a way out of the tests of sin, but nowhere does it say he provides a way out of the trials and struggles of life. Instead of the Christian life being a charmed life of blessing, where we don’t live as others do, it is absolutely a human life with all the normal trials and struggles, ups and downs of all human people. Christians suffer illness, mental health struggles, bullying, oppression, prejudice, fear and abuse, and so on, as much as everyone else. We all die, eventually and Christians aren’t immune to that either.
But, God does promise that he will walk with us, be with us, encourage, strengthen and support us, in the midst of all the struggles. We never walk alone as a Christian. Not only do we have our church family for support and care, but we have God with us moment by moment, in the deepest of valleys and the darkest of nights. God is the light in our darkness and the darkness cannot put him out. And when we can take no more, then he will carry us through the darkness.
God tells us “Do not fear” more often than any other command in the bible, apparently 365 times, though I haven’t counted this myself. If that is right then that is every day of the year that God tells us not to fear. That command is often followed by a call to be bold and be strong, to have courage and to remember that he is with us. So he knows that we go through struggles, he even lets us go through these struggles, but he is always with us in them. And as we suffer and struggle, then we can show others around us that God is present, we can lean on him, pray to him, read his wisdom and others will catch him from us in their own struggles.
So if today, Covid has caught up with you and yours, if the lockdown is a struggle and loneliness is your darkness, if depression is flooding you with fear, if fear of others is overwhelming, if work is a place of anxiety, then remember God is with you now. Take a moment to tell him how you are feeling and what you are struggling with, then be quiet and calm (as best you can be), and ask for his peace to fill you. Let him come and be with you, and acknowledge his presence. I know he knows before you ever tell or ask him, but just that sense of speaking with him is an acknowledgment of his presence and care, to yourself as much as to him. Let his peace calm you and move you back to a place of strength and courage.
Remember, God is with you always to the very end of time.