Temptations and challenges come to us in many ways—the job, the kids, the spouse, the neighbor, the family member, the car, the checkbook, the medical condition—to infinity and beyond!
Paul assures us: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13). As much as you feel like the only one, you’re not. That’s comforting in a way. What’s even more comforting is the next verse, which is why he put it there: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way to escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Escape, you’re thinking, is exactly what I need right now! But it’s not that sort of escape, the kind where you pull a cord and disappear from the difficult situation. Rather, the escape is the kind where you are actually able to handle it, deal with it, held up by grace. You endure.
This is always easy to see and say from the outside, and extremely difficult to do so from the inside. The belly of the beast is acidic. This is why we must say it from the outside so that when pressed on all sides and distracted, we can remember. Players shoot thousands of free-throws in practice so when the fans are screaming and the game is on the line, they don’t forget how.
The ways of escape provided by God are as many as there are difficult situations. But each of them is laid hold of by our faith, our continued trust in a God who raises the dead: “For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall” (Ps. 18:29).
The most exciting thing about seemingly impossible circumstances is our great privilege of being in them. If God won’t test you beyond your ability, and he says he won’t, then guess what? You’re up for it. No, you weren’t asked beforehand, but that isn’t important. We have no choice in this life but to be stretched because our maker will have it no other way. Of course this doesn’t mean that God somehow promises to withhold the consequences of our sinful or foolish actions, but it does mean he will bless us in the midst of even those. How much more should we embrace the chaos that comes from sanctified hard work and good desires–like helping the hurting, having many children, educating those children, and building a life? We are given and entrusted with these problems because we are equipped to solve them. So if and when you feel unready for the latest insanity, the good news is that it comes with on the job training. This is your promotion.