“God won’t give you more than you can bear,” so they say.  Oh, yes He will.  And that’s a good thing.

That notion comes from a verse that says God “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able” (1 Cor. 10:13), but that’s about avoiding sin.  To the contrary, Paul said, “We were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.”  God gave him more than he could bear, and Paul knew why.  “So that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:8-9).

How could a good, loving, and all-powerful God allow pain?  The question assumes we know what is good.  If God exists, wouldn’t He know what we cannot?  In the Bible, Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, enslaved in Egypt, unjustly imprisoned, and forgotten.  All bad.  But history tells us those events led him to be prime minister of a world power, rescue an entire nation, and preserve the lineage of the Messiah.  He told those brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20).

God’s best for you is to trust Him, so in love He uses life on earth to teach you that.  You can trust that “God causes all things to work together for good” and that “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (Rom. 8:28, 2 Cor. 12:9).  Faith teaches us that misfortune can have meaning.

An acquaintance of mine has lived with heart-wrenching tragedy.  She and her husband lost their first baby.  Last year they lost a grown son.  Her conclusion?  “God is faithful in all His ways and even when we can’t see what His plans and purposes are, we can know that He is working in ways far greater than we can understand.  Life is a matter of choosing to trust when we don’t understand.”  Horatio Spafford also lost children and wrote, “Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well with my soul.’ ”

Churches were full after 9/11.  Pain pushes us toward God.  C. S. Lewis said, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  What is He saying?  “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

When the world hurls its worst at you, take comfort that God knows and provides the only way to escape: by grace through faith.  When your story has conflict you can play the victim, or be the protagonist that finds strength and hope in God.  If having more than you can bear makes you see that, it is eternally a good thing.