We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)
While it is absolutely true that God “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (1 Corinthians 10:13), the cliche that “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is an unbiblical lie. Paul says so directly in today’s passage. He says the “troubles” and “pressure” he experienced while working in Asia were “far beyond [his] ability to endure.”
Later in this letter to the Corinthians, Paul explains that one of those many “troubles” was “a thorn in [his] flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Three times, Paul “pleaded with the Lord” to take this thorn away from him. But God said no, telling Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). In other words, “No Paul. I won’t remove this thorn. Because I will get greater glory as I produce extraordinary results through you in spite of your weaknesses.”
God’s words lead Paul to say, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
What challenges are you facing at work today? A sudden loss in revenue? A difficult boss? A “thorn in your flesh” that’s prohibiting you from fully engaging with the work God created you to do? These things may indeed be more than you can handle in your own strength. And that’s the point.
May our weaknesses lead us to a greater reliance on the Lord. And may others see God’s great glory as he works through us in spite of our inadequacies.