Allow me a moment of confession. With all of yesterday’s busyness, I didn’t take the time to read all four lessons for Lent 3C. I read the story from Exodus 3, wrote a blog post, and moved on to the next thing. So it was, with great surprise, that I realized that the Lectionary pairs 1 Cor 10:1-13, “We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day” with Luke 13:1-9, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.” It will take me at least 24 hours to process how I will handle the glaring inconsistencies between Paul’s word to the church in Corinth and Jesus’ word to the anxious crowd. I mean, yikes! Instead, today I’ll deal with the greater offense of 1 Corinthians 10: the awful paraphrase of verse 13, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
Let’s be real clear, most of the time life is more than we can handle. What Paul is talking about in this oft-misquoted line isn’t the sufferings of this life, but the temptations away from God’s kingdom. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of the time those temptations are too much to handle as well, which is why the second half of that verse is the most important part.
“… with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
When life and all of its temptations become more than we can handle, some call that Monday, God is there in the midst of it providing refuge from the storm. “God won’t give you more than you can handle” sounds an awful lot like “suck it up buttercup.” “God is here to help you withstand temptation and to offer grace if and when you fail” is much better news, if you ask me. So stop with the nonsensical, guilt inducing, pseudo-supportive, Joel-Osteen-Bad-Exegesis-Self-Help-Mumbo-Jumbo, and instead share the Good news of God’s steadfast love that exists even when life is just too much to handle.