Suffering

I don’t do this often as I try to stick to uplifting subjects that fall within my outdoor recreation and adventure expertise, but every once in a while I am compelled to set the record straight on bible quotes. As the caregiver to a person battling cancer I frequently am subjected to alleged words of wisdom from the bible. Sometimes the verses are  taken out of context and sometimes they are simply mistranslated by misguided attempts at clarification by new versions.

The one I have been hearing a lot lately is actually a partial quote of a mistranslated verse and is as follows, “And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear”. This glib declaration sounds pretty good… God is in control and is careful to make sure we don’t suffer too much. But this of course is ridiculous as people all over the world are routinely forced to suffer more than they can bear. People suffer horrible diseases and were it not for modern pain killers they would often die screaming in agony. People in foreign countries are tortured and killed all the time and whether they bear it or not is decided only by the cruelty of their captors who through their own freedom of choice force them to. People lose limbs or are paralyzed in car accidents, injured in work related incidents and suffer unimaginable pain from accidents of all kinds. So the statement that God will not allow more than people can bear is simply not true.

The full and more accurate translation of the verse used to promote this misconception is provided by the King James Bible and does not relate to suffering at all, but to temptation and sin. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” God is simply telling us that all our excuses for sinning are weak and there is a way out if we are willing to walk away. It has nothing to do with the suffering of another, only the degree of our own character and action that we ourselves might take in a time of weakness.

So the next time you are tempted to tell someone that God will not allow more than they can bear, just remember God may be calling you at that moment to make the difference between the bearable and the unbearable in that person’s life.

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