Encouragement From The Word

The Blue Jays’ trials…and ours

I grew up in northern Ontario, where winter sports were always more emphasized than summer ones.  In the days before the Blue Jays, I remember having a Montreal Expos cap, though I can’t recall ever having watched a baseball game on television when I was a kid.  It wasn’t until I got to know my wife’s aunt that I got any interest in baseball.  She was a Blue Jays fanatic from the team’s very beginning.

For a time, I stayed with her, and she taught me everything I know (and a lot that I’ve forgotten) about the sport of baseball.  She would watch the games on TV, but would mute the sound, and listen to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth on the radio.  I learned to do the same – though I’ll admit I’m still more of a winter sports kind of guy.

If you pay attention to the Blue Jays, you’ll have noticed that on Wednesday evening this week, they sustained a huge loss, and their worst shut-out in team history:  Oakland beat the Jays 16 to nothing.  Die-hard Jays fans everywhere were doubled over in pain – more pain, it would seem, than J.P. Arincibia had when he completed an inning after having his hand broken!  It was a tough loss.

The placement of the team’s star catcher on the disabled list just adds salt to a festering wound of injuries that the Blue Jays have sustained this season.  It’s been a tough year for the team, yet many believe they are still in contention for a wild-card spot in the American League East.  (On Thursday, they did come back to beat Oakland by scoring 10 runs, so there seems to be hope for them!)

The Jays are facing a tough remainder to the season, but one thing you’re not seeing them do is give up:  the team is not throwing in the proverbial towel!  Each player not sidelined with injury will continue to suit up for each game, and each will continue to give his all for the best interests of the team.

At times in our lives, we face trial after trial.  Sometimes, they even seem to pile up on top of each other.  We wonder whether we can continue to function with these myriad difficulties.  And some people will respond by saying that God will never give us more than we can handle.

But I don’t believe that.  I don’t believe it’s true that God will never give us more than we can handle.

What I do believe is that God will never give us more than God and us together can handle, by his grace.  Do you see the difference?

When we think that God won’t give us more than we can handle, that’s about us, and how “good” at handling things we may have become.  But when we believe that God won’t give us more than God and us together can handle, that’s about God.

God has not set the world ticking, given each of us a capacity for trouble, and walked away.  No, God continues to be active in the world every moment of every day.  And God draws nearer us when we call on him in our times of difficulty.

Some think it’s biblical to believe that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  But there’s only one verse in the whole Bible that even comes close to this idea, and it’s 1 Corinthians 10.13:  “No temptation has seized you except what is common to (humanity).  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (NIV).  That verse isn’t talking about trials and troubles, but about temptations – and it is not God who tempts us, but the Tempter himself, the devil!

No, that verse won’t stand up to scrutiny when it comes to the difficulties we face in our lives.  I contend that God will not place us in any situation or time of trial in which his grace will not be enough to sustain us.  The same writer who wrote the quotation about temptation, above, also wrote candidly about his own sustained trial – what Paul the apostle called a “thorn in the flesh” – about which the Lord Jesus himself spoke to Paul:  “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  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 12.9-10, NIV).

Let the Lord Jesus be strong through you.  He will enable you to sustain whatever trials may befall you.