Have you ever listened to a sermon and received a moment of insight you didn’t expect? I imagine we’ve all experienced this, as I did recently.
My pastor was preaching from 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (NIV).
God’s Word here specifically refers to temptation, but we’ve grown accustomed to applying this verse to our circumstances, saying, “God will never give us more than we can bear” when we’re going through difficult times. But this is out of context. As my pastor said, the truth is that God will always give us more than we can bear so we will turn our situations and our lives back over to Him and trust in Him—but He will never give us more than He can bear.
This struck me as exactly relevant to where we are as an industry today. We’re experiencing change faster than we can keep up with, competition that seems to be overtaking us, uncertainty that sometimes paralyzes us, and we’re crying out, “How much more can we bear?”
But I would ask, is God able to bear all this? Do we trust that He is with us and will make a way? If so, what should our response be? As I see it, we have two lenses through which we might see our response: the lens of scarcity or the lens of abundance.
The lens of scarcity might tempt us to look at our circumstances from the perspective of what we don’t have or what we’ve lost. We see Christian retail stores closing and determine that a distribution channel is going away. Or we see diminishing numbers at industry events and decide they’re not worth attending. Or we see companies tightening their belts and perceive we’d better start looking out for No. 1.
But the lens of abundance focuses on all we do have. We have a 2000-strong network of dedicated, hard-working storeowners who have persevered and are committed to the mission. We have thousands of people throughout the industry with creative and innovative ideas who just need their voices heard and a way to share solutions. We have each other. Most importantly, we have a God-sized task that has been given to us and a God who has promised He will complete the good work started in us (Philippians 1:6). Trials and tribulations might seem like more than we can bear— but isn’t that just how God shows He is with us?
He is able to bear all things, and for that we have every reason to hope and persevere and keep moving forward.
I believe we will yet see Him do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). So I challenge us to take the next step of faith together—and find out what He has for us to do next.