Three of those “knowable” truths are found in 1 Corinthians 10:13. The first portion of that verse reads, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.” Unfortunately, we tend to think of the word temptation only in regard to sin. Although that is a part of its meaning, limiting the term to sin greatly reduces the scope of the verse. It’s interesting to note that the word temptation is from the same word group we find in James 1:2 (italics added): “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Actually 1 Corinthians 10:13 could read, “No trouble has seized you except what is common to man.”
This portion of verse 13 provides the first principle we need to rely on in the face of problems. It’s the principle of commonality. You can be absolutely sure that you are not the only one who has gone through this kind of problem. You haven’t been singled out by God to be the one individual in the history of the human race selected to experience a situation like this. There were others before you, and there will be others after you.
It’s been said that misery loves company. What is true is that misery needs company to keep us from terrible aloneness, to enable us to find others who have struggled against the same dragons, and to prepare us to help others who are yet to be ambushed.
In the American church, we have privileges that few other believers around the world have. One of them is good Christian literature. Most Christian bookstores today have quality material available about people who have walked through dark times—biographies of suffering heroes, and specific titles on sudden tragedy, abuse, broken homes, disappointments, and a variety of other problems.
If you are suffering through a trial, you should be able to find someone who has been there before, who has struggled and come to know grace, growth, and glory. Networking with others as a point of support and insight can be very helpful. Look for heroes who have made it through with their hands held high in victory. What you’re suffering is common to others.
And as God, by His grace and in His time, begins to put the pieces of your growth and His glory together, you can fulfill the truth of commonality by becoming a support to someone else who is looking and listening for that “Can I help? I’ve been there too!”
A tremendous frustration for me as a pastor was to stand with people who were experiencing terrible pain. I learned early on that I should not say, “I understand.” Because I didn’t understand. I had never been there myself.
But then some special person who had been there before would walk up and put his arm around this suffering soldier and say, “I understand. Let’s talk.”