“I want you to see that suffering is not at all uncommon, but also that it is not random—it is sent by our heavenly Father, who is both sovereign and loving, for our ultimate good. Indeed, I want you to understand that suffering is a vocation, a calling from God’
‘There have been times in my life when I have uttered foolish prayers. When I have been hard pressed, I have cried out to God: “This much and no more, Lord. I can’t handle another setback. One more straw and I’m finished.” It seems that every time I pray like that God puts a fresh load on my back. It is as if He answers my prayer by saying, “Don’t tell Me how much you can bear.”
God knows our limits far better than we do. In one respect, we are very much like camels. When the camel’s load is heavy, he doesn’t ask his master for more weight. His knees get a bit wobbly and he groans beneath the burden, but he can take on more before his back will break. The promise of God is not that He will never give us more weight than we want to carry. The promise of God is that He will never put more on us than we can bear.
Note that Paul did not say, “We are lightly pressed on every side.” He said that we are hard pressed. At first glance, these words seem in direct conflict with the promises of Christ. Jesus said: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt.11:28-30). It does not always seem to me that the burden Christ gives us is light. With these words, it almost seems as if Jesus approaches us under false pretenses. But His words are true. He does give rest to those who are heavy laden. The words easy and light are relative terms. Easy is relative to a standard of difficulty. Light is relative to a standard of heaviness. What is difficult to bear without Christ is made far more bearable with Christ. What is a heavy burden to carry alone becomes a far lighter burden to carry with His help. It is precisely the presence and help of Christ in times of suffering that makes it possible for us to stand up under pressure. It was because of Christ that Paul could triumphantly declare that though he was hard pressed, he was not crushed. We may feel like junked automobiles in a metal compactor, but Christ stands as a shield to prevent the pressure that comes upon us from crushing us entirely. To suffer without Christ is to risk being totally and completely crushed.’