I am contacting you with a question about something I read in one of your books.
First of all, thank you for your books, they are very engaging. I enjoyed reading The Choir Immortal, especially (as an LCMS member and choir member) your inclusion of relevant Scripture references!
On page 190, two characters have a conversation about faith and its testing. When Rebecca asks her mother, “God will never give us more than we can handle, right?” Alice replies, “…God never promises such a thing.”
I read the conversation a few times and then looked up one of my favorite Bible verses in 1 Corinthians 10:13 where Paul writes, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.”
As a fellow Christian, I have always taken great comfort in this and am wondering why Alice does not share this with her daughter?
First of all, thank you for your kind regards. I am blessed beyond measure that you read my books, let alone find them engaging. I pray that they will continue to be a source of encouragement for you as you turn their pages.
Second, what a thoughtful question!
If it helps, here is why I did not have Alice reference 1 Corinthians 10:13 when talking with her daughter about the burdens of illness and suffering:
Notice that the Apostle Paul, in this verse, is speaking particularly about God’s promise to give us a way out of every temptation. That is a promise to give us a way out of sinning, not suffering, and suffering is what Alice is specifically addressing on page 190 of The Choir Immortal.
If God never gave us more than we can handle, then we would never die. The mortification of our flesh is, literally, our being given more than we can handle. We cannot keep ourselves alive, and we cannot raise ourselves from the dead. So, we trust in Christ to handle the matter for us. We trust in His promise to raise us from the dead on the Last Day.
Alice knows this, and so, rather than encouraging Rebecca to put her faith in the work of her own (Doomed to fail!) hands, she encourages her daughter to put her trust in the sure and certain work of Christ’s hands — His pierced flesh, mortified for her salvation and risen for her justification.
Jesus tells us that we will have tribulation in this world (John 16:33), but we are to take heart — not because we can handle what the world gives us, but because Jesus has overcome the world. Thanks be to God!
In hindsight, I do wish that Alice had referenced one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians during that conversation with Rebecca, but it is the second epistle that perfectly applies to their (and our) plight:
“[W]e were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
May God give us faith which trusts in His promises!
Yours in Christ,