Tuesday, June 27, 2006

thoughts on things taught in church last sunday - part 3 - god won't let our trials be more than we can handle

"god won't allow our trials to exceed our abilities to handle them."

during my sophomore year in highschool, my friend chris went home after church, got into his running car, and waited for the carbon monoxide to fill the garage and suffocate him. whatever his trials were, if they were not too much for him, he might be alive today.

of the several funerals i have attended in my life, this was by far the hardest. it wasn't so much the sadness of not having chris around, but the pain of imagining what he had been going through that crushed him to the point where he decided it was better to just not live anymore.

suicide happens because for some people, their trials are just too much.

even without suicide, the idea that trials never exceed our abilties to handle them fails when we realize that for all too many people there is nothing for them to handle their trials to. by this i mean that there is either no end to their extreme suffering, or that the suffering eventually kills them.

in indonesia an eleven year old sex-slave is kept in a cage, only to be taken out to be repeatedly and violently raped. her starving and frail body is kicked and beaten to abort her occasional pregnancies. eventually her body can no longer survive the abuse and she dies. tell her that her trials were never more than she could handle.


  1. Out of all the things you talk about I wish this one got a full treatment in a conference talk or something. It is hurtful and demeaning to people who have experienced real suffering. This kind of bull shit (please excuse) works if we are talking about getting a “c” on a test, but not real life horrific suffering. In fact it only functions to cover up the horrific suffering of the world rather than address it which was a foundational aspect of Jesus’ mission. It is a abdication of the covenant to “mourn with those that mourn.” Sorry for the rant, but I get upset at this one.

  2. I don't claim to have any right to speak on this topic, never having experienced suffering of the magnitude you mention here. But for me, one of God's greatest promises is that through the Atonement there is no suffering which He cannot ultimately (maybe not in this life) soothe with peace.

    I know that's not the same statement that you're taking exception to, but I think it is the Truth behind the cliche.

  3. This reminds me of a class I had last semester.

    We were discussing euthanasia. Well, trying to discuss it anyway. Much of the class was hesitant to express an opinion either for or against euthanasia until LDS.org had been consulted.

    Once it was established that the Brethren oppose euthanasia, the discussion began. The class was blessed with the presence of a few nonmembers who didn't feel obligated to conform to the Church's official stance.

    These nonmembers brought up some very compelling arguments as to why, in some particular circumstances, euthanasia might be a merciful, civilized action to take. The opposing argument that kept resurfacing went about like this:

    "Everybody has trials in life. That's no reason to kill yourself. They should just endure to the end."

    That's easy to say when you're not bed-riden and in constant pain, slowly dying of a chronic illness.

    I don't want to start a discussion about euthanasia. But I think there's room for some of us (myself included) to be more empathetic toward the suffering of others. This is unfortunately impeded when we pass around ideas like the one mentioned in the Narrator's EQ, i.e., that no suffering in this life is too much for us to handle.

    Great series of posts, by the way.

  4. I think whoever said this was a confusing the idea that God won't let us be tempted more than we can handle (1 Cor. 10:13) --which isn't exactly cut-and-dried doctrine either.

  5. russ,

    But for me, one of God's greatest promises is that through the Atonement there is no suffering which He cannot ultimately (maybe not in this life) soothe with peace.

    i once had an elder's quorum president tell me that "god does not care about starving children in africa because he sees the bigger picture." i yelled it him for that. my problem with this notion (whether or not it is true) is that it too often gives grounds for people to ignore the suffering with the view that all will be well in the end.


    i think you are right that perhaps this was derived from the verse on temptation. however, this was hardly the sole time i've heard this. in fact i have heard it at least 3 times in the past month during church. i also agree with you that even the temptation issue is problematic.

  6. I think it is usually stated "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 descape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13) You make a good point that there are many cases where the trials are too much to handle.

    Bad stuff happens, Abinadi was burned alive, Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered and martyred. I don't think that their trials were ever more than they could handle. I think there are some terrible people in the world, but God is just I know that God will judge righteously and according to each individual trial.

  7. Bad stuff happens, Abinadi was burned alive, Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered and martyred.

    I don't understand what it means to say that Abindi's burning to death wasn't more than he could handle.


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