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Sunday, February 5, 2017

God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Bear - A Sermon

This is the manuscript of a sermon that I delivered at Christ Church, Los Angeles, CA. “The world and Satan will give you more than you can bear, but God will help you bear it if you’ll only trust in Him! Our ability to face heartache, tragedy, and trouble don’t depend on you. It depends on Him." The audio recording of the sermon is included in this published manuscript.

There are a lot of quotes and sayings that well meaning people, even Christians, believe are in Bible but aren’t. We’ve heard many of these things over the years in church, from our parents, other relatives, friends, and  other people we respect.   Most of these quotes are not bad in themselves most of them are meant to encourage and inspire, but some of them are direct contradictions of scripture.  Sometimes what we don’t really know about what’s in the Bible can actually hurt us when we confuse something that “sounds like it came from the Bible” with biblical truth.  

A lot of things that you hear Christians, even Christian leaders, say that are in the Bible are not there and if they are not there they don’t carry the authority of Scripture.  


2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)16  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Psalm 119:89 (NKJV) Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.

Isaiah 40:8 (NKJV)  The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."

One of those quotes or phrases that we hear a lot is; “God will never give you more than you can bear”.  That sounds like something that would be in the bible doesn’t it? Certainly  God, who we know loves us wouldn’t let us go through situations that stretch our abilities as human beings to handle or understand.  Things like being struck with a debilitating illness in the prime of life, one of our children dieing young,  losing a job right after we go into major debt,  the promising start-up company that hires you to lead their growth suddenly close down, facing foreclosure, why is your spouse saddled with chronic illness ending in death, and all this happening one right after the other? Those are things  that we really can’t bear, but since we have been taught that we shouldn't question God or ask why, we try the find something in the Bible, or what sounds like scripture so that we can  try and make sense of what’s happening, and to rationalize it.


Well I hate to tell you this, “God will never give you more than you can bear”, isn’t in the Bible it is a misquote of;

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)  No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.


1 Corinthians 10:13 (MSG) No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.


The Greek word both Paul used is that is translated temptation is peirasmos which can also be translated “testing.” or “trial”.  Practically speaking, this term could be translated “temptation and testing.”.


Here is what Paul was telling the believers in Corinth;


God will not allow you to be tried above the strength he gives you; but as the trial comes, he will provide you with sufficient strength to resist it. You can be sure that there is a way out, just as there was a way in; and that the trial shall never be above the strength that God shall give you to bear it.  When Paul says he won’t give what is beyond what you are able, he means, not beyond what you are able with God’s help.  Those of us who are helped are not independent of the power of God.   He will never let us stumble or fail so that we don’t recover. In other words, he will never let a test or trial cause us to lose our salvation. We know that because of a couple of other things he says.


Here is why I say this:
Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)  being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Luke 22:31-32 (NKJV)31  And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.32  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me,  strengthen your brethren.”
2 Corinthians 9:8 (NKJV)  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.  
1 Corinthians 15:10 (NKJV)10  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
The statement that “God will never give you more than you can bear” is  wrong because we just read that God does not bring or give, His children, temptations, trials, or tests.  Every temptation is a test; every test is a temptation and while God allows them they don’t come from Him.  


James 1:13 NKJV Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.


Some of these trials and tests come from Satan but some, in fact, many maybe even most, of them, come as a consequence of our own actions.  When we say that “God will never give you more than you can bear” it suggests that God, who loves us, would never let us get past the breaking point.  Think about when you are going through a really tough time, it may be an illness, financial struggles, whatever, and some well meaning person says, “God will never give you more than you can bear”.  Well the reality is, that you have reached the point of exhaustion and are about to lose it.  You start to think that God is either a masochist, doesn’t really know how much you can bear, or that there is something wrong with you.  You’re overwhelmed and God isn’t helping.


Bad things happen because


  • We live in a fallen world  


Romans 8:18-22 (NKJV)18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.19  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;21  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.22  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.


John 16:33 (NKJV) These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
  • God in His sovereignty and for His purposes allows them to happen


Job was an example of this


Job 1:9-12 (NKJV)9  So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does Job fear God for nothing?
10  Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.11  But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!"12  And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person." So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.


Job 2:4-6 (NKJV)4  So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.5  But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!"6  And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life."


Job is also an example of somebody who experienced more than he could bear.  He reached the point that he wished that he's had not been born.


Job 10:18‭-‬19 (NKJV)  ‘Why then have You brought me out of the womb? Oh, that I had perished and no eye had seen me! I would have been as though I had not been. I would have been carried from the womb to the grave


Let’s look at some more examples of God actually allowing someone to go through something beyond their human ability to bear.  

We know how great a true follower of Jesus Paul was yet he faced trials and tribulations all the time, and at one time he admitted that he couldn’t take it anymore.

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 (NKJV) 8  For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.9  Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,10  who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,


Moses


Numbers 11:12‭-‬15 (NKJV)   Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child,’ to the land which You swore to their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep all over me, saying, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now—if I have found favor in Your sight—and do not let me see my wretchedness!”

Elijah after his great victory over the prophets of Baal
I Kings 19:1‭-‬4 (NKJV) And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to  me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord , take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”


You say okay those are folk in the bible.  How about an example of someone today?  I could use myself as an example because there have been several times in my life that God has allowed me to experience things that I could not bear.  But I found someone who had a far worse experience than me.   Let me read something that I found in my research.  It’s from a book titled No That’s Not in the Bible”, by David O. Dykes:


This is what he found in a search for “God won’t put more on you than you can bear”.  It was found on an Internet message board:


“Where do i start”i need a new place to live. I need a new job. I need to be able to support myself and the boys without counting on rex, who is in self-destruct mode.  (two tickets gone to warrant, his Mack truck un-registered for two years, probably on drugs-grey skin, wild eyes…) people don't want to rent to a single mother with two boys and a cat.people don’t want to rent to a woman with bad credit. People don’t want to rent to a crisis magnet. To summon the energy to look for yet another job (third in two years), and look for another home third in two years), look for other childcare (fifth in two years) is more than i can bear, the bible says god won’t give you more than you can bear. Okay, god, i can’t bear this. I need help.”

Let’s admit it we sometimes hurt so much that it is more than we can bear.  There is a quote by Dr. Howard Hendricks, “Sometimes life gets so tough that you don’t just hit rock bottom - you crash through it”.  Tough times come with living.  We can’t get around it and we’re not exempt from them.    

The reality of Scripture is that God does allow us to experience trials, tribulations, and hardships, sometimes even greater than we can bear by ourselves in order to push us  toward true faith and submission.

James 1:2-8 (NKJV)2  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.4  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.6  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.7  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;8  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

The way you bear the burdens and trials that come on you speaks volumes about your faith and commitment to trusting God.  


Paul pleaded, three times for God  to take a burden from him.  


2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NKJV)7  And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.8  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.9  And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God’s answer wasn’t you can bear it Paul because I wouldn’t put more on you than you can bear, His answer was  "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

Our expectations are that we won’t ever have to deal with disappointment, that every day will be perfect, no worries, no sickness, no sorrow.  But when those things come our emotional response is disappointment.  If we’re not careful that disappointment can become discouragement.  The circumstances that trigger disappointment may be unavoidable, but the way we respond is a choice. We can either let the disappointment  overwhelm us or we can face the situation with courage and take it to the One who can help us through them.  

There is nowhere in Scripture where there appears to be a cutoff point for trials and tribulations.  Not while we are still alive and on this earth.  Yes, when we die and go to be with the Lord, there are no more troubles but until then we have to depend on the Lord to be with us, to guide us, and strengthen us, because there will be troubles that we can’t bear on our own.  God didn’t give us the troubles but He stays with us through them.  

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)  Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."

The Question Then Is What Do You Do When Things Get Too Much To Bare

Jesus tells us to come Him;

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)28  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

He tells us to help each other;

Galatians 6:1-5 (NKJV)1  Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.2  Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.3  For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.4  But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.5  For each one shall bear his own load.

David, who we know had all sorts of problems in his life told us to give them to the Lord;  

Psalm 55:22 (NKJV)  Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. ​
God Doesn’t Expect You To Bear Your Troubles Alone

It’s pretty clear that God doesn’t expect any person to handle everything that comes to them alone. The Scriptures never say that God won’t give you more that you can handle what they do say is that if you trust God He will be with you through it.


Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)  Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."

In the book “No That’s Not in the Bible”, by David O. Dykes,  I found this:

Mary lost her husband unexpectedly in a tragic accident.  Several weeks after his death, I saw her at church and reminded her, “God won’t put more on you than you can bear.”  Mary just smiled and proceeded to teach me a lesson I never got in seminary.  She said “Oh, I’ve heard that before.  But after Dave died, I tried to find that scripture in the Bible.  It isn’t there.”  Then she took a deep breath and said, “However, I have found that God will never put more on you than God can bear.”


So rather than the phrase being “God will never give you more than you can bear”  it really should be “The world and Satan will give you more than you can bear, but God will help you bear it if you’ll only trust in Him!  Our ability to face heartache,  tragedy, and trouble don’t depend on you.   It depends on Him.


Sermon Audio