…we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life…
2 Corinthians 1:8
Often in pop-theology we hear something like “God will not give us more than we can handle.” Regarding temptation, this is true (see 1 Cor. 10:13). But otherwise God often puts us in situations that are beyond our strength, and He does so tht we might learn to lean on Him.
Where do you currently feel stressed beyond your ability to endure? Are you in despair of your circumstance? Do you want to give up or are you desperate for a change in life? God has allowed you to be there so that you might lean on Him, and He will be there for you.
Our typical burdens, from which we feel overtaxed, include:
Loneliness or the loss of close friends
Not being noticed for the good things you do
Frustrations with the failures or others
A sense that the grass is greener some place else
The requirement where we are to work against or outside of our strengths
Disorganization and an absence of real vision
God does often move us to where we can be of more use, but we should not automatically despair in the face of frustration. We should also expect God to show us His strength. A deep sense of weakness and dissatisfaction is the prelude to experiencing God’s greatness. Often I find in my own life that my frustrations have revealed to me that I have been searching for significance, for life and meaning, outside of Christ. He has not changed and no set of circumstances by themselves can block His power and presence from His people.
Wrath is cruel and anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
Jealousy or envy makes an adversary a dangerous person to us. What might otherwise be mere brotherly or sisterly competition can become deadly and dirty when jealousy is brought into the mix. Jealousy is not only dangerous to its object, but it is deadly to the one who is jealous as well.
The rabbis had a story about which was worse - covetousness or jealousy? There were two men who were granted to have their wishes fulfilled, but double to the one who wished last. One man was covetous of others and the other was jealous, and neither wanted to go first. The covetous man did not want to go first because he wanted the double portion, but the envious man did not want to go first because he hated the thought of helping his neighbor. Finally, the envious man did go first and his wish was to have one of his eyes removed.
Covetousness is restless and never can take pleasure in what one has - it always wants more. But jealousy is worse because it combines covetousness with anger and is willing to destroy oneself so as to harm another.
Is there a cure for either or both? Yes. It is faith and trust in the Lord. The heart who believes in the promises of God and in His love and faithfulness to each of His children, can rejoice in each day’s blessings, and can even rejoice in another’s advancement, which out feeling forgotten or pushed aside. The scriptural command is to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:14), and this requires that we trust the Lord and be ready to encourage others no matter whether they are promoted above us or not.
This allows us to encourage one another and each person on earth needs an encourager. Neither envy or coveting allows us any satisfaction in life and deny us a sense of contentment, but trust in the goodness of God allow us both. Envy and coveting ties our significance to our possessions and/or achievements, and makes us into petty and selfish creatures. Faith ties significance to the love and grace of God and gives us a foundation to bless and encourage others.
Who are you tempted to envy? What are you tempted to covet? Place the person and the item into the hands of God. Thank Him for His goodness to you. Become His instrument to encourage another, and you will be blessed in the process. It is blessed to receive, but it is more blessed to give.