“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide you the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
In this passage, Paul is addressing more of the Corinthians questions about what it means to follow Christ. This was the beginning of the Christian movement so many of the leaders didn’t even know how to act and what to believe. Christians in Corinth were feeling overwhelmed with challenge after challenge. They believed they were being “tested” in a similar way that Jesus was tested in the wilderness.
The temptation with a passage like this is to attribute challenging times to God, saying that God is causing these challenges to teach us some lesson of endurance. Sometimes, people even attribute their suffering to God in this way. However, Paul is not saying that here. He is not saying that God is going to cause us harm or suffering to teach us a lesson. He is saying that a relationship with God does not make us immune to challenges and suffering. The Hebrews faced real challenges. Early Christians faced real challenges. We face real challenges.
Our response to the challenges of life is what matters. Looking at the actions and responses of our ancestors, will we learn from their mistakes or will we make their same mistakes again? Will we look to our Hebrew ancestors to learn lessons of faithfulness in the wilderness or will we simply see their stories as reason for despair in the midst of challenges? Will we see Jesus’ wilderness journey as hope that we have a God who knows struggle or will we see it as a hopeless account of the inescapable struggle of our world? The way we look at our ancestors, our great cloud of witnesses, will determine the way in which we are able to face our own struggles and challenges.
We will be given an incredible endurance regardless of the situation because God will accompany us through it all. God will be with us through the lessons we learn from our great cloud of witnesses. God will be with us through our community of faith that walks alongside of us through difficult times. God will be with us in the quiet of our own hearts. This presence will birth in us an inexplainable endurance.
As you contemplate your own spiritual journey this Lent, who are the people who give you encouragement when your life gets challenging? How have you experienced God giving you endurance in the past? Where might you need some endurance now?
You are the giver of all good gifts, O God. You have blessed us with the gift of your unwavering presence in our lives. We pray that you would continue to lift us up. Remind us of your sustaining love that gives endurance, patience, and compassion. Amen.