When It’s Too Much to Bear

So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

I’ve heard this passage preached many times and always the conclusion I heard was that God has not given you more than you can handle nor will God ever give you more than you can handle. The times in my life when the brokenness and pain and evil that exists in our world has been it’s too much to bear, I have always felt a deep sense of shame. I’ve put on a brave face and acted as if the brokenness and pain and evil doesn’t exist and¬†refused to listen to stories or remember because if it’s too much to bear, than my faith is not strong enough.

But I’ve looked at this passage again and I think this is another example of a passage of scripture that has been misinterpreted through our individualistic, self-centered, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, American Christianity. This is a letter to the church of Corinth and when Paul uses “you” here, he’s not using the singular form of you. He’s using the plural form.

In other words,

God is faithful and he will not give y’all be tested beyond y’all’s strength.

It’s not that we as individuals have to be strong enough to bear the brokenness and pain and evil in the world. It’s that the church, the people of God, our communities of faith have to be strong enough to bear the brokenness and pain and evil in this world.

But our churches can’t get to this kind of strength until we stop using the church for our own financial security, self-worth, and salve for our insecurities. Our churches can’t get to this kind of strength until we stop avoiding looking at the brokenness and pain and evil in the world in our Bible studies, in our prayers, and in our preaching. Our churches can’t get to this kind of strength until we stop making church about us and start being real and authentic and honest.

When it’s the brokenness and evil and pain is too much to bear, we need the church to stand strong, but in a time when brokenness and evil and pain are so prevalent, the church has fallen. Be careful, if you think your church is standing and not talking about the brokenness and evil and pain that exists. Y’all, too, will fall.