The apostle Paul wrote that Jehovah “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Does this mean that Jehovah decides ahead of time what we can endure and then chooses what trials we will face?
If this were true, think of how it would affect our life. For example, one brother’s son committed suicide. The father was heartbroken. He wondered whether Jehovah had looked into the future and decided that he and his wife would be able to endure this tragedy. In this system, many of us will face tragedies. So should we believe that Jehovah controls everything that happens in our life?
As we examine 1 Corinthians 10:13, we will see that the Bible does not support the idea that Jehovah knows ahead of time what we can endure and then decides what trials we will have. Why can we say this? Let us examine four reasons.
First, Jehovah gave humans free will, the freedom to make choices. He wants us to make our own decisions. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20; Joshua 24:15) If we choose to make decisions that please Jehovah, we can rely on him to guide us. (Proverbs 16:9) But when we make bad decisions, we will have to live with the results. (Galatians 6:7) So if Jehovah chose what trials we went through, would we really have free will?
Second, Jehovah does not protect us from “unexpected events.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) A person may have a tragic accident simply because he happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jesus spoke about an accident in which 18 people were killed when a tower fell on them. He made it clear that God did not cause their deaths. (Luke 13:1-5) It is not logical to think that before an accident happens, God decides who will live or die.
Third, each one of us must maintain integrity to Jehovah. Satan said that Jehovah’s servants serve Him because of what He gives them. Satan claimed that we would not remain loyal to Jehovah if we experienced trials. (Job 1:9-11; 2:4; Revelation 12:10) If Jehovah protected us from certain trials, it might seem as if Satan were right.
Fourth, Jehovah does not choose to know everything that will happen to us ahead of time. Of course, Jehovah can know what will happen in the future if he wants to. (Isaiah 46:10) But the Bible shows that he does not choose to know everything ahead of time. (Genesis 18:20, 21; 22:12) Jehovah is loving and righteous, so he does not interfere with our freedom to make our own choices.—Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Corinthians 3:17.
What, then, did Paul mean when he said that Jehovah “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear”? Here, Paul was describing what Jehovah does during trials, not before them.* (See footnote.) If we trust in Jehovah, he will help us through any trial in our life. (Psalm 55:22) We will now examine two reasons why Paul could say this.
The first reason is that the trials we go through are “common to men.” As long as we are living in Satan’s system, we will all experience difficult situations, perhaps even tragedy. But if we rely on Jehovah, we can endure these trials and remain loyal. (1 Peter 5:8, 9) Earlier in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul wrote about some of the tests the Israelites had in the wilderness. (1 Corinthians 10:6-11) Those who relied on Jehovah could endure those trials. But some Israelites disobeyed Jehovah. They did not remain loyal because they did not rely on him.
The second reason is that “God is faithful.” What does this mean? When we look at how Jehovah has taken care of his servants throughout history, we see that he loyally helps “those who love him and keep his commandments.” (Deuteronomy 7:9) We learn that Jehovah always keeps his promises. (Joshua 23:14) We can be sure that (1) Jehovah will not allow any trial to become so difficult that we cannot endure it, and (2) he will “make the way out” for us.
How does Jehovah “make the way out” for those who rely on him? Of course, he can remove a trial. But remember, Paul said that Jehovah will “make the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” Thus, Jehovah often makes the way out for us by strengthening us so that we can remain loyal. Let us discuss some of the ways he does this.
Jehovah “comforts us in all our trials.” (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4) He can calm our mind, heart, and emotions by means of the Bible, his holy spirit, and the faithful slave.—Matthew 24:45; John 14:16, footnote; Romans 15:4.
Jehovah can use his holy spirit to guide us. (John 14:26) The holy spirit can help us to remember Bible accounts and principles so that we can make wise decisions.
Jehovah can use his angels to help us.—Hebrews 1:14.
Jehovah can use our brothers and sisters to help us. They can strengthen us by what they say and do.—Colossians 4:11.
So, what have we learned from Paul’s words found at 1 Corinthians 10:13? Jehovah does not choose what trials we go through. But we can be sure that if we trust in Jehovah, we can endure any trial. We know that Jehovah will always make the way out for us so that we can remain loyal to him.
The Greek word translated as “temptation” also means “test,” or “trial.”