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How many times this past year during pandemic teaching did you hear, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” How many times after hearing that “verse” have you felt like a complete failure?
Well, here’s the deal - that’s not actually a verse, but a variation of this one:
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. 1 Cor 10:13
Does that surprise you that it’s not actually from the Bible?
I did a little reading in various scholarly pieces and discovered this little nugget from
Terry Storch - co-founder of YouVersion explaining this verse.
Let’s break it down this way. Temptation vs. Suffering. Temptation, what Paul said, for the most part, is connected with our choices and things and situations that we have decision-making and control of. Being tempted isn’t a sin, acting and deciding on that temptation is the sin. Paul said we wouldn’t be tempted beyond what you can bear...what we have the ability to say no to. Suffering is not connected to decisions we make and actions we are in control of for the most part. These are two very different words, meanings, and ideas that should not be confused with each other.
Totally different than how people use it today. Now after years of thinking I’ve been encouraging people by saying “God doesn’t give you more than you can bear” I feel a deep need to apologize for those misleading, misguided, hurtful words. So - I am sorry for saying those damaging words to friends, family, and co-workers - especially this past year and a half when we’ve all bore more than we can possibly bear.
Teaching during a pandemic has been incredibly difficult for those of us in the classroom.Check Your Toxic Positivity and Correct Your Word Choices Click To Tweet
Then our districts pile more on our plate-making it almost impossible to do our jobs. Throw in mask mandates from a few of our states forbidding the wearing of masks - well it is like wishing a drowning man well instead of tossing them a life preserver. I’ve come to the conclusion that quoting that particular phrase is hurtful and damaging to say because the true message we convey with this saying is this - when you cannot handle the pressure “God puts on you” then you are a failure. I do not believe it.
I am back in the classroom at a new school this year and am beginning to get a taste of what my new colleagues experienced over the past year and a half. I am learning new software to record lessons online for when students start having to quarantine.
We are under pressure. Too much pressure.
So - we obviously want to encourage those around us.
First of all - quit offering that statement as the source of encouragement. Offer your support. Be a sounding board for co-workers to vent to. Be a voice in your districts when the pressure is too much. Administrators - please stop piling things on your staff. If your teachers are crumbling under the pressure, step in and help. Maybe cover their classes for the rest of the day and let them go home without docking their pay.
Years ago my assistant principal stepped into my room telling me to gather my things and go to the hospital. My daughter had had a medical emergency and was rushed to the ER with my husband driving behind the ambulance. The AP told me not to worry about my classes because he would teach the rest of the day. He made sure I could drive myself and offered to have someone drive if I needed to. That is the level of compassion we need in our schools today- the most important thing we can offer those in tough situations is Grace.
Extending grace can bring healing and restoration. I am also concerned about learning gaps, but I am more concerned about the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health of those in the classroom.