Chapter 3

Bearability

The second reality is the truth of bearability. First Corinthians 10:13 goes on to say, “And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” That statement guarantees that God never gives us anything more than what we can bear. It’s like the country road that has a sign posted before a bridge, “Load Limit 5 Tons.” God, who knows our “load limit,” limits the load He permits us to carry.

One of the states in which we lived had a bottle return policy. Each empty pop bottle was worth 10 cents. Neither Martie nor I especially liked to take the bottles back. This meant that they accumulated in our garage, leaving a veritable savings account in pop bottles. One evening when the stacks of bottles had gotten intolerably high, I decided to take them back. Our then preschooler son, Matthew, followed me into the garage and nobly said, “Daddy, let me help!” (Why is it that when children are too young to help they want to help you, and when they finally get old enough to be constructive, they aren’t interested?) “Sure, Matt,” was my reply. This precious little boy took two cartons of bottles and struggled to get them into the car.

Off we went to the grocery store. I got a cart and piled the bottles in, put some under my arms, and started to the store. Matt had his two cartons. Halfway across the parking lot he set his down, looked at me, and exhaustedly said, “Daddy, I can’t do it. They’re too heavy.” I replied, “Listen, Matthew. You started the project. You wanted to help. Now buck up and do it right. Pick those bottles up. I’ll count to five.”

Do you think I said that?

Not a chance! As his father, I understood his limits. I picked up Matt’s cartons and put them into the grocery cart. Now if I, as an earthly, fallen father would do that for my child, how much more will my Father in heaven, who intimately knows me, be willing to never permit anything more than what I can bear. You can know that. If He permits trouble to come into your life, it’s bearable.

It’s not that our trouble doesn’t often seem unbearable. It often does. It’s that we can know that if God has permitted it, in His intimate knowledge of who we are (and He knows us better than we know ourselves), we can be assured that it is indeed not beyond our capacity to bear.

In this guarantee is the promise that though we may become bent, we will never be broken. Our lives only become brittle and fatally broken when, by poor responses, we permit bitterness to add extra weight to the load of our struggle.

There’s a particularly strategic side to this principle that we dare not miss. All of us have had the feeling at times that God really hasn’t done anything for us in a long, long time. We see Him at work for others, yet much of our life seems strangely lacking in terms of the supernatural. We tend to sour and think that though God may be at work somewhere, “He’s not at work in my life!”

Actually, if God did nothing more than redeem me, He’s already done far more than I deserve. That’s reason enough to give Him praise and glory for the rest of my life. Yet beyond that, He’s active every day in my life as He stands as the sentinel at the gate of my existence, weighing, measuring, and excluding everything that exceeds my load limit. Those are the things I know nothing about. Periodically, as I fall asleep, I like to thank God for the things He did for me today that I am unaware of. When there is nothing on your thanksgiving list, thank Him that He has guaranteed that your struggles are bearable and that He has kept from you things that would have been crushing blows.

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