By Dr. Harold Sala

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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.  1 Corinthians 10:13

A neighborhood bully about ten years of age was invited to go to a local Sunday School, and the boy went.  The teacher recognized the lad and thought to herself, “I better really pour it on because I may never get the chance again!”  So she talked about the devil and pictured him as an evil, ugly creature replete with pitchfork and tail spitting fire, ready to devour bad boys who were bullies thinking that she just might scare the kid into the kingdom.  The visiting lad squirmed and looked at his feet as she really poured it on.  Then after about 20 minutes, she got his attention asking, “Now, young man, what do you think of the devil?  Aren’t you a little afraid of him?”  “Yeah, I guess I am afraid of that big old devil,” he drawled, “but if you bring a devil around just my size, I’m sure I could whip him.”

You know, friend, the problems that confront us in life are just that size, not an inch bigger than the grace of God which will meet you at the point of your deepest need.  The problem is, we forget that truth.  We often consider the problems which confront us to be disastrously large—big old devils which are ready to destroy us, and I freely admit, there are some that seem that way.

“How are you so confident?” you may be asking in your heart.  “You don’t know about the problems I’ve got!”  True, I don’t.  But I do know that God knows, and I also know the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it” (The Message).

What we often lose sight of, when we are pressed by difficulties, is the size of God’s grace and help.  We see only the family situation, the illness, the bills in your budget book, or the ache of a broken heart.

One of the most inspiring persons I ever met was a woman whose hands and limbs were badly crippled with arthritis.  Mrs. Cason, as we boys knew her, was painfully poor, living in a small mill town.  I was in college and some of us from the school would take her groceries from time to time, but almost every week one of us would go and read the Bible to her.  Finally, her arthritis crippled her so badly that she couldn’t get out of bed.  With no family and only a few neighbors to help, the future wasn’t very bright for this old woman, yet she was always sparkly bright and cheerful.  Most of her teeth were missing but her heart was filled with warmth and hope.

What I most remember about old Mrs. Cason was the fact she would say, “God has been so good to me!”  And to myself, I would think, “Really?  Just look at yourself.  You can’t walk anymore; you can’t move around.  How can you say that?”  One day as I read Scripture and prayed with her, she said it again, “God has been so good to me!”  And I couldn’t hold it in any longer, “How can you really say that?” I asked her.  She quickly replied, “Without God’s help and strength I couldn’t stand the pain a single day!”

As Elizabeth Coatsworth put it, “The plant cut down to the root does not hate; it uses all its strength to grow once more.”  To you God would say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  I eventually finished school and moved.  The reports of her condition were less frequent and certainly less positive.  She’s been gone now for more than a third of a century, but those words will never be erased from my memory, “God’s been so good to me!”  How about it, friend?  Overcome with the pain of your problem?  Look beyond, and through it all, you will still see the goodness of the Lord.

Resource reading: 2 Corinthians 12.