“Only By His Strength”
Blake Allen, Student and Outreach Minister, LHBC
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except something common to mankind; and God is faithful, so He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
Ukranian Oleksii Novikov was crowned the victor of the World’s Strongest Man competition in 2020. Novikov broke the world record for partial deadlift, lifting a 1,185 pound bar 18 inches off the ground. Most people’s jaws would drop seeing the Ukranian lift this insane amount of weight. This is far more than I could handle. I have trouble lifting my 10 month old off the ground–I guess old age is kicking in for me. But while this is incredibly impressive, it is not what sticks out to me. Instead, I am reminded that we all have our limitations. For Oleksii Novikov, his limit is 1,185 pounds. Had it been 1,186 pounds, the Ukranian champion may not have been able to complete the partial deadlift. We all have our limits.
But have you ever heard the phrase, “God will never give you more than you can handle?” While the sentiment sounds great, this is entirely false. Let’s just get real for a minute. I have lost two children in miscarriage. It was far more than me and my wife could handle. I have experienced hurt beyond words at times and it was more than I could handle. When hurricane Katrina and Rita hit New Orleans, it was more than the people of the city could handle. You, yourselves, may have had some experiences in your life that were more than you could handle.
This idea that, “God will never give you more than you can handle,” comes from a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 10:13. The biblical writer doesn’t promise not to give us more than we can handle. This verse is actually in the context of avoiding idolatry and sexual immorality. In other words, when we are faced with temptations that could possibly lead us astray, we can be sure that God will provide a way of escape. By his power, we are not overtaken by sin and temptation in our lives.
The reality is we do face situations that are far more than we can handle, that is, by our own strength. But through God’s power and authority, we can overcome all that we face. It’s His strength that sustains us. It’s His power that overcomes sin, temptations, and brokenness in our lives. If we will never face any situation in our lives that WE couldn’t overcome by our OWN strength, then why did Jesus come and die for us? What would be the point of the crucifixion and the resurrection if we could “handle every situation?”
We need Christ resurrection power because we can’t do it on our own strength. We can’t save ourselves. We have fallen into temptation time and time again. Our strength will fail. But God’s strength will never fail. The possibility of avoiding sin and temptation in our lives exists not because of anything we could do but because Christ made it possible. So we must rely on God’s power. It starts and ends with His power, and His power alone. This reminds me of that old children’s song:
Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak, but He is strong
Every single one of us has limits. Our physical strength runs out. Our emotional strength runs dry. Our mental fortitude has its limits. But the grace and everlasting power of our God will always sustain us. Trust and rely on Him to handle the weight and burdens you try to carry. Trust and rely on Him to help you overcome sin in your life. Trust and rely on Him when you are faced with temptations that you don’t have the human strength to avoid. You need divine assistance. Only He can carry you through all of these situations. It’s by His strength that you will be brought through it all.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
Psalm 42:5- Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him my salvation.