2 Corinthians 1 – 4
Too many times I have heard a well-intentioned person tell a brother or sister in Christ who is suffering through a difficult situation, “God never gives us more than we can handle.” They might as well say, “If you weren’t so strong, God wouldn’t be putting you through this.” What an awful thing to say to someone whose world is falling apart around them! How is that supposed to comfort someone whose heart is broken over the loss of a loved one, or is suffering with a chronic illness or a cancer diagnosis, or is dealing with financial difficulties or clinical depression or… or….or. You fill in the blank.
It’s not a true statement. It is a poor way of translating 1 Corinthians 10:13 where Paul writes, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” Paul is speaking about temptations. He says nothing about the difficult trials of life in this verse. However, in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul talks about, “the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die.” Sounds like more than they could handle to me.
So how should we comfort a person suffering through life’s tragedies without coming across like friends of Job? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:4, “He (God) comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
How has God comforted you? Has He provided a kind word when it was needed most? Maybe reminded you that the trial you are suffering through is not a punishment from Him? Has He sent someone your way to give you a hug, tell you you are loved, sit with you and let you just talk about your situation or vent your frustrations, or be a shoulder to cry on? How has He provided comfort for you? That is how you can comfort others.
So instead of misquoting a scripture that just leaves a person feeling more depressed, let’s quote scripture to our Christian family that can be encouraging and comforting. Let’s remind each other that God loves us – (John 3:16-17). God loved us even when we were sinners – (Romans 5:8). God doesn’t condemn us – (Romans 8:1). We are never alone – (Deuteronomy 31:6). He is close to the broken hearted – (Psalm 34:18).
Similar to how temptations we face are no different from what others experience, trials we’ve gone through are often the same trials others are going through. Who better to comfort someone going through a difficult situation than a person who has been there – done that – and survived?
The best news of all regarding the trials of this life is this: “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now, rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)