That's one of the most memorable lines from The Princess Bride. That line, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means," could be used equally as well with how a lot of people use different scripture verses. One in particular that comes to mind is 1 Corinthians 10:13. There Paul writes,

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

Now, more times than not you will hear Christians use that verse in the context of hard and difficult times that a person may be going through. They will say something along the lines of, "Now just remember that God has promised not to give us more than we can handle." The intent behind the words are loving. The person is trying to encourage the person who is suffering that they can get through whatever it is they are going through.

The problem of course is that 1 Corinthians 10:13 is about resisting temptations to sin in our life and not on handling suffering and difficult times. The promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is that when temptations to sin come in the life of the believer, God will not leave them without a way to endure that temptation and thus avoid giving into the sin. God will always provide, in the face of temptation, an option for the follower of Christ to choose that does not involve sin and thus is pleasing to God.

But there is another problem with the thought of, "Well God does not put more on our plate than we can handle," besides it not being what 1 Corinthians 10:13 is talking about. The problem is that the reality is that God, more times than not, does indeed put more on our plate than we can handle and He is good and kind to do so. Why is that? Listen to what Paul writes to the same church at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 1:8,

"For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. "

Paul here writes that the suffering that they were going through was much more than their plate could handle. They were given suffering and hardship to endure that was beyond their ability to handle to the point that they thought they were going to die. But then notice what he says next: "But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." Did you notice the aspect of intentionality behind the "bigger than our plate" suffering and hardship that we sometimes endure as followers of Christ? The suffering that they were enduring was given to them "to make them rely not on ourselves."

Our default mindset as sinners when confronted with suffering and hardship is to seek to rely on ourselves in order to survive it. Now who would want to make us rely on God instead of ourselves? Well, it surely would not be Satan. He would not bring suffering in our lives for the purpose of making us rely on God instead of ourselves. No, he wants us to rely on ourselves instead of God. He is perfectly pleased with that kind of idolatry. It is God who wants to make us rely not on ourselves but on Him. He is the one who brings suffering in our life that is more than we can handle for the purpose of teaching us that we can't handle it on our own and that we must rely or trust on Him. We need the power and ability of the one who raises the dead to carry us through suffering and hard times in our life. God is kind and gracious to bring/allow suffering into our lives to wean us off of relying on the idol of self so that we will start trusting in His power and strength to enable us to persevere through the worst of suffering in our lives.

Therefore, the next time someone says to you in the midst of your suffering--with the best and most loving of intentions--"God has promised not to put more on our table than we can bear," you know better. Introduce them to the God who loves us enough to put more on our table than we can bear so that learn to trust and rely more on Him and all that He is for us in Christ!

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