Thursday, February 20, 2014

God is our REFUGE and STRENGTH

Ok, so this week I'll get on my "Soap Box" about a phrase often used as a word of comfort and
encouragement that is a MISQUOTATION of the Bible, and I think a phrase that causes more heartache instead of comfort.

"God won't give you more than you can bear." NOT TRUE I say.
I wish I could erase that phrase from all of our minds and off of all of our tongues. It is just NOT TRUE!!

It is a misquotation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says,
"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."
If we are being literal, then the Bible says, "[God] will not let you be TESTED beyond your strength..." Being TESTED is very different than "giving you more than you can bear".

Some may say the translation matters, does it?  Follow this link to see MANY English translations:

"God won't give you more than you can bear." is a terrible MISUSE of Scripture.  And just plain BAD pastoral care.  Think with me about a few situations:

  • Child abuse is more than any child (any one of us) can bear.
  • Spouse abuse is more than one can bear.
  • The death of a child is more that one can bear.
  • Addiction is more than one can bear. (The 1st step of the 12 steps of AA is to admit being powerless aka unable to bear it!)
  • the list goes on...
No instead the Good News of the Gospel is that WE DO NOT BEAR THESE THINGS ALONE!  God is with us.  Christ on the cross bears them with us (and even he cried, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!").  The Christian community surrounds us with prayer, with compassion, with physical embrace, with the very arms of the Body of Christ.  In our times of trouble and difficulty, WE ARE NOT ALONE!

Again return 1 Corinthians 10:13, the Apostle Paul's offer of Good News is that in times of trial and temptation, God PROVIDES A WAY OUT!  God is WITH us and PROVIDING for us in our difficult times.  There is a WAY OUT.  That is Good News.  Our job is to watch for God's way out.

So do me a favor, never say again, "God won't give you more than you can bear." 
Instead say, 
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear..." Psalm 46:1-2
Ok, I'll step off my "Soap Box".

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