Have you ever read the scripture about God not letting us suffer beyond what we can bear? It makes sense doesn’t it, a God of perfect love not wanting His creation to suffer beyond what they can endure?
There’s only one problem with it.
It’s not in scripture at all. Have a look, trust me it’s not there.
If you’re thinking differently, you are probably thinking of 1 Corinthians 10 v 13, which tells us God won’t let us be tempted beyond what we can bear.
An entirely different issue.
Which leaves us with the old phrase about God not letting us suffer beyond our capability to suffer. People still believe this, even if they know it’s not in scripture.
Because anything else doesn’t fit with their image of God.
But if my experience is anything to go by, it’s almost certainly not true.
Whether it was losing my Mum at 23 or growing up in a broken home with parents fighting each other. Or a parent with alcohol problems, or being horrendously bullied at school. Or a combination of the above.
Frankly, any of those on its own was, without doubt, more than I could bear. The reality was many of them happened concurrently. It was hell. It was more than I could bear alone.
No one will ever convince me God doesn’t let us suffer beyond anything we can bear.
He does. (tweet that here)
However, it was during the hell of my teenage years, when I had no one to talk to and almost no escape, I got into a habit which changed my life.
I began to pray every day. When I went to bed, before I went to sleep I talked to God about my life. I vented my frustration and asked Him to help me through. These times were what got me through those years. Finally someone to listen.
Those nights of prayer proved the foundation of my relationship with God. I discovered an intimacy which I could never hope to replicate otherwise. It drew me into deeper relationship with the divine, and helped grow a gift of prayer which I used to good effect in later years.
All, indirectly, because I was suffering beyond what I could bear.
I’m certain I’m not alone in this.
If you ask most people about the key, significant moments in their lives, the pivotal, life-changing moments, very rarely will you hear them share about the good times. The times they had the best job, perfect relationship, or were completely ‘happy’.
No, most people will talk about the time they lost their job and had to find new direction. Or when a relationship ended and they had to reassess their life.
Or, like me, when they lost a parent and had to deal with the grief.
Because when we suffer beyond our boundaries, when we come to the end of ourselves, we find ourselves almost inevitably drawn towards the divine. (tweet that here)
Because when we’e taken to our limits, we have no choice but rest in the divine.
We have no option but to trust in His strength, His comfort and His mercy.
So when you consider suffering, consider how God may sometimes allow us to suffer beyond what we can bear. But only in order to draw us into deeper community, with both Him and others. To show us more of Himself.
Consider the fruit of suffering. Mine was a deeper relationship with God. A gift of prayer. More independence. Experience to be able to support and encourage others going through the exact same circumstances.
God wastes nothing. There is always light from the darkness of suffering.
Finally, take comfort from the truth.
We weren’t meant to suffer alone.
And we never, ever do.
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