Some of us have gotten rain lately, but the first six months of 2011 was one of the driest on record. A friend who shall remain nameless tongue-in-cheekily commented that God might not have sent rain because he knew we couldn’t handle it at that time. He likened the situation to his own life, in that God possibly hadn’t given him lots of money because he might use it unwisely and possibly even sinfully. Conversely, the central US has had flooding, but they could handle it with levees they can blow up and flood control dams. I told him his comments would likely become a newspaper article, but I promised him anonymity.
God won’t put on us more than we can handle when it comes to sin, temptation, and obedience. Regarding obedience, God’s commands aren’t burdensome (1 John 5: 3). They actually give such freedom from oppression and are so unbelievably simple that some people view them as simply unbelievable (1 Corinthians 1: 18-31).
Regarding sin and temptation, God doesn’t tempt us and he doesn’t allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to resist the temptation [James 1: 13-15 (put a bookmark here, we’ll be back); 1 Corinthians 10: 13]. God’s grace helps us resist temptation. Through God’s word, the grace that brings salvation teaches us how to resist sin, but we must allow that grace to work in our lives (Titus 2: 11-14; 2 Timothy 3: 14-17; James 1: 16-25).
Prayer is another means God provides to help us overcome temptation (Matthew 26: 41). While God doesn’t tempt us, he can lead us away from temptation through our obedience to his word, although he may not remove a specific source of temptation unless we ask him (Proverbs 30: 7-9; Matthew 6: 9-13; 7: 7-11). He still might not do it even if we ask; but, we certainly shouldn’t expect it to happen if we don’t ask (James 4: 2, 3; 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10).
Maybe the rain was withheld, not because we can’t handle it, but because we didn’t ask for the right reason – to bring glory to God. Is your prayer that the land be watered so your crops and grass can grow? Or is it so that we can feed a starving world helping them realize God’s love and divine nature through his providence and the beauty and intricacies of his magnificent creation?
I recognize that when it’s all said and done, God knows what’s in our best interest and he always acts on a time scale that’s just right (Romans 5: 6). We’ll get the rains in their due season if we’re on the right track with God (Deuteronomy 11: 13-15). Let’s see what happens when we pray for showers of blessing that bring glory to God (Ezekiel 34: 25-31; Romans 9: 6-8; Galatians 3: 26-4: 7). I bet he’ll bless us beyond our imagination and we’ll eventually realize he was blessing us even when it didn’t rain (Ephesians 3: 20, 21).