Three Things You Should Know About Your Problems


“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Life can sometimes seem like a complex maze, isn’t it? Some of the problems and difficulties of life seem so complex that whichever way you turn, you just cannot seem to find the way out. At times, you feel trapped, hopeless and helpless. You feel all alone in the maze with no one else beside, and you feel that it is way beyond your ability to navigate out of it.

1st Corinthians 10:13 gives us some very important instructions on the proper way to view and deal with the problems of life. It also gives us real hope and encouragement in whatever situation we may find ourselves in.

In this verse, we learn three things about life’s problems. First, we learn that there is no problem that is unique. Second, we learn that there is no problem we face that is too great for us. Third, we learn that we never have to face a problem without a way of escape.


1. No Unique Problem

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…

The word temptation in this verse can mean two things. It can refer to a trial or a test to prove one’s faithfulness or it can refer to a temptation or inducement to sin and evil. Most probably, the Apostle Paul had both these meanings in mind when he used this word.

Something can be both a trial and a temptation at the same time. It depends on which perspective you are looking at it from and how you respond to it. A classic example is the story of Job. From Satan’s point of view, the afflictions and troubles that came upon Job were meant to tempt or induce Job to curse God and to cast away his faith. From God’s point of view, the afflictions of Job were a means to prove that he was faithful and to strengthen his faith.

The same may be said of the temptations that Jesus faced in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1 tells us that it was the Spirit who brought Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. On the one hand, Satan wanted to use those temptations to destroy the Son of God. On the other hand, God used those temptations or tests to demonstrate that Jesus is the promised Messiah, who had come to defeat the devil and deliver His people.

God never tempts anyone to sin (Jas 1:13). Nevertheless, God does bring trials into the lives of His people for His own glory and for their ultimate good (Job 23:10, Rom 8:28).

So all the trials and temptations that we face in life are covered by this word ‘temptation’ in our text. This means that we can apply the principles found in this verse to every trying situation or problem in our life.   

The phrase ‘common to man’ is just one word in the Greek and it means that which is human or that which is characteristic of or belonging to mankind. In other words, Paul is saying that there is no such thing as a superhuman or supernatural temptation. All temptations or trials that you or I or anyone else will ever face are not ultimately unique to human experience. Instead they are typical and common to all mankind. There will never be a situation where the trial that we are faced with is so unique that no one else in this world has ever experienced it before.

Now this is a very bold and radical claim. If a famous psychiatrist or psychologist made such a claim, you would have every right to challenge him, because no scientist has been or ever will be able to observe all men at all times. Furthermore, the experiments and observations of science are limited to outward and observable things. Science has no way of penetrating into and looking at the hearts and souls of people. Thus it is impossible for human beings to arrive at the conclusion that there are no unique problems. The only way we can know that is by God revealing it to us. And God, through the pen of the Apostle Paul, tells us that no temptation has overtaken us but such as is common to man.

As an aside, we are reminded of the tremendous advantage that Christians have over non-Christians, even non-Christian scientists and philosophers. We have divine, absolute, universal, and unchanging truths revealed to us in the Bible concerning who we are, the problems that we face and the solutions to our problems. Unbelievers who reject the Bible as God’s Word can have no certain knowledge about these and many other things.

But what exactly does it mean that there are no unique trials among men? After all, all of us have different personalities, backgrounds and characters, and all of us are in different situations and circumstances. How can it be that there are no trials and temptations that are unique to us as individuals?

Now it’s true that there may be unique features to each problem and no two situations are ever exactly alike. But what the Apostle is telling us is that underneath these outward features lie fundamental problems which are common to all. In other words, the only unique aspects of a person’s problem are those secondary and superficial features of the problem but not the basic root problem itself. Once you have stripped away the husk or shell of the problem and exposed its inner core, you’ll say with the Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecc 1:9b).

Most, if not all, of the common and fundamental themes of sin and problems of mankind can be traced back to the book of Genesis, especially the early chapters from chapter 3 onwards. For example, the question of whose authority will you obey and whose word will you trust, the problem of trying to hide from God, of a bad conscience and of trying to cover up one’s sin and shame, of shifting blame to something or someone else and failing to acknowledge one’s sin, of failing to faithfully perform one’s duties and responsibilities, of breakdown in communication between man and man, and man and God, of sickness, suffering and death, of frustration at work, of the proper order in the family, of will worship, of refusing to properly deal with one’s sin leading to a downward spiral, of envy, strife, hatred, murder, revenge, pride, abuse of God’s creation, lust, sexual perversion, adultery, unbelief, idolatry, theft, false witness and so on.    

These temptations, trials and problems of mankind have been around early in human history after Adam fell. They manifest themselves in different ways and at different times, but at the basic fundamental level, they are the same, or if you like, they are just variations on the same theme.  

What are some implications of this truth? Well, for one, it gives us great comfort. It’s a great comfort to know that our problems or struggles are not ultimately unique such that no one else has ever gone through them. As the saying goes, ‘we are all in it together,’ or ‘we’re all in the same boat.’ It is always comforting and reassuring, isn’t it, to know that other believers throughout history have had to endure the same basic problems and trials as us, and by the grace of God and the word of God, have pulled through?

Regardless of the kind of problem or temptation you are facing, remember that you are not in it alone. This is one reason why Christians need each other. We are not meant to walk this pilgrim journey alone. Instead, we are called to exhort, encourage, admonish, teach, and help one another through the trials of life. Furthermore, the fact that there are no unique trials is also an encouragement and comfort to those who are seeking to help others in their time of need and trial. Your main task, as a helper, is to help that brother recognize and identify the problem for what it truly is and then apply the right biblical principles to help him find a biblical solution to the problem.

But another important implication of this fact is that we cannot use our so-called “unique” trial as an excuse to run away from our problems or to deal with them in an ungodly or unbiblical way. If at root, our problems are the same as those faced by other Christians elsewhere and at other times, then we can never excuse ourselves from dealing with them in the right way. Instead, we are to acknowledge and accept personal responsibility for our thoughts, actions, and reactions at all times.

Do you realize that not even the trials and temptations which Christ experienced in His earthly life are ultimately unique. We read in the book of Hebrews that Christ took on our nature, suffered, and was tempted at all points like as we are in order that He might be our sympathetic High Priest and help us in our times of trial. Not only did He not plead to be excused, but He went through all those trials without sin. He did it for our sakes and He is well able to give us the aid that we need (Heb 2:14-18, 4:14-16).

So we have seen that there are no ultimately unique problems at the fundamental and basic level. But, you might say, “Isn’t it also true that not all problems and trials are as intense and severe as others? After all Job and especially the Lord Jesus Himself experienced a degree and an intensity of testing that far surpassed everyone else.” That’s true. And that brings us to the second point, namely, that there are no problems that are too difficult.


2. No Problem Too Difficult

God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able…

You will not be tempted above your strength or ability to handle it. You will not have to face a problem or trial that is heavier than what you can bear. God’s faithfulness guarantees it. He has promised that that will not happen and you can count on it never to happen.

God sets the limits not only on the kinds of trials that we will face but also on the intensity and degree of those trials. God screens out, as it were, those trials and temptations which are not suitable or helpful for us. Nothing can come upon us which He deems to be too intense or heavy or difficult for us to bear. Remember that even Satan, our chief enemy, has to go to God to get His permission before he is allowed to do anything or bring anything into our lives. Nothing can get by God’s screening process. He remains in absolute sovereign control over all of life’s circumstances.

 We see something of this in the lives and experiences of the disciples. In John chapter 18, we read that when the soldiers came to arrest the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord asked them twice whom they had come for. After they answered for the second time, “Jesus of Nazareth,” the Lord said, “If therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way; that the saying might be fulfilled, which He spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.” Why did the Lord not allow His disciples to be arrested at that time? Well, one of the reasons I believe is that they were not ready for such a trial yet. Had they been arrested that night, they might have been destroyed by the temptation, and the Lord would not permit that.

But some time later, after the Lord had ascended up on high and the Holy Spirit had come upon them in power, we read in the book of Acts that the disciples were arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, but they refused to deny their Lord. Instead, they boldly testified for Him and were even willing to suffer persecution for His name’s sake. In fact, according to Church history, all the apostles apart from John, who was exiled on the island of Patmos, died as martyrs in the service of their master. All of them suffered for the sake of the gospel. But they did not go through those intense trials and sufferings until they were ready to handle them.

The Master knows best what we can bear and when we can bear it. The Shepherd watches over each and every sheep, and never allows them to face a temptation that is inherently stronger than their abilities.

But I would go one step further and say that God not only allows and permits those trials that we can bear to come into our lives, He is also the One who designs those trials for us. God is like a tailor who knows our measurements and tailor makes each problem to fit us. No problem will be too big or hang too long on us. Each will be tailor- made exactly to the individual child of God.

We know that this is so because He is the God who had ordained and decreed every single thing that comes to pass in this universe. He is the God of creation, the God of history, the God of providence. Ultimately, nothing ever happens apart from His foreknowledge and foreordination.

So we learn in this second point that God both limits and tailor makes each trial to fit us so that we never have to face something beyond our ability to withstand. The commentator Geoffrey Wilson writes, “God thus tempers the length and strength of the temptation to enable His people to bear it and not be overwhelmed by it.”

One important implication of this truth is that we cannot say, “I can’t” to any situation or circumstance that we face in life. If God has sent it, then based on His promise in this verse, we will be able to bear it. If God has required it, then the Christian can and must do it.

But you might protest, “I do not think I can stand firm for my faith say in an arena of hungry lions or at the stake or before a firing squad as other Christians have.” And you may well be correct. But understand that God does not require you to face a firing squad right now. And you may never be called to do so as other Christians have. God does not promise that you will have the strength now to meet the problems of tomorrow or next year. But He does promise that you will have the strength and wisdom and courage to face the problems of today.

Do you believe that? Oh may the Lord grant us the faith to believe, and the strength and the grace that we need to meet everything that He sends our way! This brings us to our third and final point, namely, that we will never have a problem without a way of escape.


3. No Problem Without Escape

…but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Here the promise of God is that with each temptation will also come a way of escape. There will not be a situation where you run into a dead end and have no way out. Or to change the analogy, you will never find yourself trapped in a fully enclosed box and left there for good with no way out. Christians will never be in a box from which they cannot escape. God always provides a way of escape from every trial. Every box has its way out. Every problem can be solved. Every temptation can be overcome. And every trial will come to an end.

The way of escape will differ from trial to trial. Sometimes the deliverance may come in a most dramatic fashion while at other times, the problem only goes away slowly and quietly. But whatever way of escape God may provide, even if it means taking you to be with Himself, we have the assurance that the way out will come just as surely as the trial itself. 

Let me apply this truth in two ways. First, it means that we will never be forced, under any circumstances, to sin against God in order to get out. If there is a way out my problems that requires me to sin, then I can safely conclude that that is not the way that God has provided for my escape. Christians will never have to make a tragic moral choice, i.e. a choice that involves one in sin. We will never be left in a situation where we have to choose between two sins and have no other option available. It may not always be easy to decide which course of action to take or which decision is the right one to make, but we must begin with the conviction that God has promised to make a way of escape for every temptation or trial that we face. 

There is always a way out. The only question is whether we know what it is and whether we are willing to walk in it or not. And thus we need to daily pray for two things: first, for understanding and wisdom from God’s word to discern God’s escape route; and second for the courage and strength to walk in it, and to do all that is required of us by God to get out. There is a biblical solution to all our problems and temptations. We must never settle for anything less than God’s way of dealing with them.

Second, this truth that there will always be an escape gives us tremendous hope in the face of all our trials and problems and difficulties. Simply knowing that there will be an end to the trial is itself most comforting and reassuring. And this knowledge is very important because it enables us to press on to the end.

All of us living in this fallen world need hope. Sin has a defeating and disheartening effect in all of our lives. And that is why immediately after the fall, in the very midst of curse and judgement, God gave hope to Adam and Eve (Gen 3:15). But it is especially those who are undergoing severe trials like depression or grief or loss of one kind or another, or those who have been battling long-standing problems like addiction or repeated failures and discouragements that need hope. When hope is lost, when the light at the end of the tunnel is extinguished, then they give up trying to deal with their problems, and in extreme cases, they take their own lives in the hope of ending their struggles. 

But our text gives great hope to the believer. No matter how dark the night may seem, the morning will come. The box of your problem will open and a way of escape will be made available according to the promise and power of God.


Conclusion

Well, we’ve considered this precious passage of scripture. Three things are promised in it. First, no problem that we will ever face will be unique at the most basic and fundamental level. Second, no problem that we will ever face will be too heavy or intense for us to bear. Third, we will never face a problem that has no way of escape.

If you are an unbeliever, then you need to understand that the promises in this verse do not apply to you. While it is true that the problems which you face are not ultimately unique since you are a descendent of Adam and you inherited his fallen nature and share in all the miseries of this fallen world, nevertheless, you do not have the promise that the difficulties and temptations that you will face will not exceed your strength and resources. In fact, if you are not born again and converted, you will not have the strength and will to resist temptations. Instead, you will fall into sin easily and repeatedly. Furthermore, you do not have the promise that a way of escape will be provided for you in every difficulty that you face. And if you die as an unbeliever, you will go into the eternal punishment of hell, where there will be no exit at all, no way of escape whatsoever, no end of suffering, and no hope forever and ever. To be in hell is like being trapped in a box that is perfectly sealed and cannot possibly be opened for those inside to escape, because the infinitely powerful and Holy God Himself is keeping the box of hell shut and no one can defeat Him or deliver from His hand.

Seek Christ my friend. He is your only hope. He alone can save you from your sin and misery. In Him, there is light and salvation and deliverance. Look to Him. Call upon His name. Repent of your sins and believe in Him, and you will be saved, and then the promises of this verse will apply to you.   

If you are a believer, then I trust that this verse of scripture has given you a right perspective and view of life’s problems, and that you will memorise it and meditate on it often, especially when you are confronted with a trial or temptation.

Remember that the key to this verse is really the phrase “but God is faithful…” Why is it that there are no unique trials in our life? God is faithful! Why is it that there will be no trials too heavy for you to bear? God is faithful! And why is it that there will always be made available a way out of every problem? God is faithful! Notice the Apostle said, “God is faithful,” not “we are faithful.” If our deliverance from temptation or trial is ultimately dependent on our faithfulness, then we are all in serious trouble for we are not always faithful and we fail so many times. But God is faithful! And because of that, we can have real hope and real help in all our problems.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Ω