No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13
“Don’t worry. God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Has anyone ever tried to reassure you this way when life seemed more than you could manage? If significant trials have caused you or someone you love to suffer, surely you have rejected the suggestion or at least wondered if God has overestimated your ability. The scripture frequently paraphrased or misquoted here is correctly stated above from 1 Cor, 10:13. (Difficult problems are rarely solved by paraphrasing an incomplete scripture passage, no matter how sympathetic the tone.)
God doesn’t promise that temptation and trouble won’t come our way. In fact, Jesus assures us that in this world we will have trouble. (See John 16:33, niv). Sometimes life’s struggles can feel unbearable, unmanageable, and even unending. At such times God can seem distant and oh so silent. Especially then it becomes tempting to call on our self-reliance or our own resources, figuring that God may be testing us.
But God doesn’t put us to the test. God takes us through the test. There is something about the fire of tribulation that melts and molds us into shapes of God’s own design. Humankind is malleable, but God is constant and ever faithful. Were it not for the sharpening of our attention in the trial, perhaps we might never have noticed the exit sign flashing “THIS WAY!”
- Bend your elbows and cup your hands in a posture to receive as you would to receive the bread of communion. What do you bring? What, already, do you hold in your hands?
- Notice the bend in your elbows, the shape of your hands, and the arrangement of your fingers and thumbs. Consider what arms and hands designed this way allow you to do. Make a list of these uses. (Suggestions: eat, drink, cover our mouths, blow a kiss, fold hands in prayer)
- Now kneel or sit with knees bent, assuming a posture to receive. Notice which way your knees bend. (Hint: it is different from our elbows and different from most other animals.) How does kneeling or bending effect your perspective?
- Find a quiet place to pray. Give thanks to God for a body designed to assume a posture of prayer. Offer God thanks for the privilege of prayer.
- It is unique to primates, including humans, that our elbows and shoulders bend forward and our knees bend backward. This not only allows us to lift and reach, but also to bend and kneel as well as stand. This distinguishes us from other animals who “kneel” on their elbows when burdened. Why do you think God made us this way?
- Things bent under a weight may risk breaking. Is there something that feels broken to you? in you? What needs fixing? Offer this to God.
- What has been mended in you or perhaps just works differently than it used to? Can you thank God in or for this? What new wholeness may God be designing for you?
God, sometimes it feels like I am army-crawling through life. Under barbwire, through the mud, dodging bullets, and ducking enemy fire. Even when I see no way out, you have provided one. Show me the way through. Help me learn to trust you in life’s toughest places. Amen.