I used to think God never allows more trials than we can endure. I was surprised when a friend told me that wasn’t Biblical. I know God loves me and has always gotten me through any trials I face. But this passage has made me stop to think about the issue.
Paul says “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” In fact, he thought he was going to die.
When I’m going through a trial, or when I see someone I love suffering more than I think they should, I question God. I ask, “Why Lord? How much can one person take?” And it’s a valid question. Maybe it’s God’s plan to let us be crushed and overwhelmed. Maybe He wants us to reach the end of our ability to endure.
When Paul reached the end of his endurance, he stopped relying on himself. It wasn’t until that point that God rescued him. I guess if you think you’re going to die, you turn to the only One who can overcome death.
There are two more points about suffering in this passage, both of which I have experienced. My suffering helps other people – both sufferers and prayers.
For a long time I’ve known that I was compassion impaired. I made up that phrase to explain the fact that I often don’t see what others are feeling and tramp all over those feelings. But after my son was ill, a good friend told me that I had become more compassionate. I’ve seen it in myself when others are going through similar problems to mine. I find myself thinking about them, praying for them, writing them notes or calling them. God comforted me in my suffering so I could comfort others. It really works and it’s not something I have to work at.
Another thing that happens when someone suffers is that people start praying. I love the internet as a tool to spread the word. Now when someone is hurt or lost or in danger, people across the world pray for them. When Neal was on the verge of death, a friend of his requested prayer for him at a church in France where my sister attended. It’s kind of a catchword in our family now that if someone in France is praying, then we really can say “everyone is praying.”
But the benefit of prayer is also for the ones praying. Lots of people will thank God because He’s answered their prayers for others. It’s not just the relief our loved ones experience. It’s the number of people who know about the problem and see the prayers answered.
I don’t want to ever be crushed or suffer past my ability to endure. And I surely don’t want that to happen to those I love. But I am confident that even if these things happen, God is good. He comforts us, saves us and answers our prayers.