Lent 3

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength.”    (1 Corinthians 10:13)


Do not try telling that to someone whose child is critically ill, or a person struggling to hold it all together as they nurse a failing partner, or someone who has had their hopes run over by a tractor-trailer of disappointment yet again. It may be true, but don’t try reminding them of that fact.

There are times when the sound of such words rings hollow; when misfortune interpreted as divine testing is not helpful at best, hurtful at worst.

There are times in life when things happen to us, or those we love, and our strength, our faith, our resilience is tested. We pray, we plead, we pray, we hope, (did I mention) we pray, and do anything we can to keep putting one foot in front of the other simply seeking to find our way forward.

I remember once being very afraid for someone I cared about. Circumstances were beyond my control. I could do nothing to help them. The situation looked hopeless. Until then I had never known fear could manifest itself physically in a body; a knot in your belly. It is possible to have all your strength used up; to have nothing left.

“He will not let you be tested beyond your strength.” Oh, yeah?

I remember a friend visiting me once and asking me, “How can you believe in a God that would let this happen?” My gut response was anger. There better be a God because I’m holding on by my finger nails and have nothing else to hold on to.

What I learned, and this is just me, is that sometimes we are pushed and our strength fails. Is it a divine test? I don’t know. I hope not. But I also learned that when I have nothing else to hold on to, there is someone who is always holding on to me; God. When my strength (and everything else) is used up, God’s strength is there to lean on, to bear me up, to keeping me from falling.

I think God knows very well that sense of loss, grief, and sadness that was the breaking of his own heart upon the cross. In the resurrection of Jesus, God has given us the gift of his love, his grace, his strength; strong enough to carry every suffering and death through into newness of life. Our strength may fail, but God’s strength never will. Ever.

His strength holds us close to him even when we can’t find words to pray, or strength to hope that that might be the case. It is. And thanks be to God!

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for your strength that carries me when I have nothing left. Thank you for the peace I have in Jesus, your Son. Amen

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