Above the Clouds

Sometimes our life circumstances are dark clouds that overshadow us and feel like more than we can bear. Well-meaning people try to comfort us, often by saying, “God will not give you more than you can handle.” But this can lead us to doubt God’s goodness or believe we have done something wrong to deserve trouble. It robs us of far more life.

I think that sentiment is a misquote of this Bible verse:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it. (I Corinthians 10:13, NIV)

What God actually said is He will not give His children more temptation than they can handle. If you have a relationship with God through Jesus, He will never allow you to be in a situation where sin is your only escape; He will always provide a righteous way out of temptation.

While that is a relief, does it mean that God allows more than we can handle to come our way? Consider this Scripture passage: 

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. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.  (2 Corinthians 1:8b-11a, NIV)

Paul felt like his situation was more than he could handle. In fact, he thought he was going to die. But he states a perspective on his difficulties often eludes us: “…This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God…on Him we have set our hope…” There is a higher purpose: God wants to draw us to far more life in Him above the clouds!

Let’s be honest: we are proud, independent people. We put a lot of faith in our own abilities. This makes sense, because there is a lot that we can do in our own strength. God has created us in His image with incredibly powerful minds, reasoning abilities, and creativity. But we are not all-knowing or all-powerful. We cannot do everything. We need God’s help. Far more life recognizes that God is our ultimate source of hope and help, especially when we are facing more than we can handle. And we will face more than we can handle in this life.

Consider these verses Paul wrote earlier in the chapter:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV)

When you face storms in life, do you think of it as a call to seek God’s comfort? As I write this post, my niece is having a stormy week. When she feels fear, hurt, or insecurity she toddles over to a trusted adult and lifts her arms, seeking to be picked up. She snuggles as close as she can and accepts our comfort. When she is filled, she wiggles out of our arms and toddles off to play. Like a toddler, God wants us to seek comfort from Him during our storms. He loves to fill us up and give us what we need to keep going.

This verse points out another truth: experiencing trouble enables us to relate to others. And turning to God for comfort equips us to share the power of a relationship with Christ with those suffering apart from Him. This has prompted me to pray this during some of the hardest times of my life: “Lord, I do not like this storm and wish I was not in it. But I trust You will use it to help me connect with someone else and offer them the comfort You are giving me now.” God has been faithful to make this happen and allow me to see good come from hardship.

Notice the verse says God comforts us in all our trouble so we can comfort others in any trouble. We are tempted to think only those who have experienced similar storms can comfort us. Sometimes that creates a special connection, but the comfort God gives is able to transcend a lack of specific experience.

How do we face more than we can bear with far more life?

  • Far more life is admitting we have more than we can handle and crying out to God for help.
  • Far more life is seeking His comfort.
  • Far more life is placing our hope in God, His written Word, and wise counsel to guide us through our challenges.
  • Far more life is renewing our mind by replacing worry and fear with His peace.
  • Far more life is offering God’s comfort to others.
  • Far more life is remembering that God will more than make up for our struggles in this life when we are with Him in Heaven. (2 Corinthians 4:17, John 16:33)

God will allow more than you can handle in your life. But He loves you and offers you hope, help, comfort, and more. Far more life allows Him to lift you above the clouds. What a wonderful place to be!

Sisters,
Have you believed God will not allow more than you can bear? How has that hurt your relationship with Him?
When you face hardship, what temptations come with it?
What barriers do you face in turning to Him for comfort?
Is there someone with whom God wants you to share His comfort?
Fly above the clouds this week as you find far more life in Him!
-Shari

Imitate Their Faith

I recently attended a celebration of life service for a woman who lived far more life. Despite facing three occurrences of cancer within six years she focused on Jesus and lived far more life to the end. She loved Him with her whole heart and trusted Him with not just her life, but also her death. It was both encouraging and humbling to hear testimonies of the impact she had on others, simply because she loved and obeyed Jesus to the best of her ability every day she remained on earth. I was starting to compare myself to her — and feel guilty about how short I fell — when her pastor shared this verse:

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7, NIV)

Remember your leaders. Leaders are people of influence in your life. This is definitely referring to those with spiritual authority over us (pastors, etc.). But I think many of us have additional “leaders” in our lives who do not hold an official title or role. They lead through their example and influence.

Who spoke the word of God to you. Good spiritual leaders rely on God’s Word for their wisdom and direction. They apply it in their own life and lovingly share it with others. Their goal is to help you better understand and follow God so you have far more life.

Consider the outcome of their way of life. Do not simply trust a leader’s words or blindly follow because of their title or personality traits. Look at the results in their lives. Are they consistently modeling far more life? Does their personal life honor God? Are they respected by their leaders, peers, and followers? Do you want the same results in your own life?

Imitate their faith. We are not instructed to imitate a leader’s specific actions or choices. Rather we are instructed to imitate the faith of those who live far more life. Faith looks different in each of our lives. But we can learn from those whose faith has grown through facing challenges with God. We can recognize areas where they have far more life, ask how their faith developed in that area, and apply ourselves to growing, too.

Why is this important?

 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6, NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10, NIV)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1, NIV)

Sisters, faith is the foundation of your relationship with God. Faith believes that God is real, powerful, and seeking you. Faith professes that Jesus paid the penalty for your sin and saves you from eternal separation from God. Faith provides peace with God, which is your first taste of far more life. This faith is not blind; it usually follows an experience that proves God exists and loves you.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12, NIV)

Faith enables us to build a relationship with God. We can talk to Him, even ask Him for help, without fear. God has graciously made our faith an “all-access” pass to Him; He is available 24/7/365 and is eager to interact with us. As we look to Him through eyes of faith, we witness His work in and around us.

“But my righteous one will live by faith…” (Hebrews 10:38a, NIV)

As we grow our relationship with God, we live more and more by faith. We discover that following God’s instructions leads to far more life. The more we see the benefit of living by faith, the more willing we are to yield to Him.

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:17, NIV)

Faith changes our motives and actions. It prompts us to share God’s love with others because we believe His love is the best gift they could ever receive. Faith urges us to generously give our time, energy, and money to those who need it because we trust God to supply our needs. Acting by faith brings us far more life.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16, NIV)

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. (I Thessalonians 5:8, NIV)

Faith equips us for spiritual battle. Believing God’s word is true, powerful, and relevant is our defense against the lies that Satan hurls at us. Since our enemies are spiritual, our weapons must be spiritual as well (Ephesians 6:12, 2 Corinthians 10:4). As a follower of Christ, entering the battle is not optional. A growing faith will encounter spiritual opposition.

At each stage of our faith journey, looking at the examples of others who are further along can be helpful. We can learn from their victories and mistakes. Far more life is often the result of a hard-fought battle, but can also come through following God’s instruction to imitate the faith of our leaders.

Sisters,
Who are the leaders in your life?
What about their faith can you imitate?
Are you starting, building, learning to obey, or acting on your faith?
As you consider the spiritual battles you are facing, whose faith can you learn from?
Thank God for your leaders who are modeling far more life and joining you on your journey.
-Shari