1 Corinthians 10:13
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.

2 Corinthians 1:8
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.

  • One's strength is not constant; it varies with time and experience in response to tests and temptations.
    – Lucian
    Oct 5, 2020 at 23:03

2 Answers 2


For the current times. this is a "timely" question. Both 1 Cor 10:13 and 2 Cor 1:8 are both true.

First, we should say that as sinful people our ability to resist almost any temptation is very limited indeed. Note carefully what 1 Cor 10:13 actually says:

There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Note that its God who creates the way of escape, not us. However, we must decide to take that escape route. Ellicott's comments are helpful here:

There hath no temptation taken you.—What is meant by a “temptation common to man” (or rather, suited to man) is explained further on as a temptation which one is “able to bear.” From the warning and exhortation of the previous verse the Apostle passes on to words of encouragement, “You need not be hopeless or despairing.” God permits the temptation by allowing the circumstances which create temptation to arise, but He takes care that no Fate bars the path of retreat. With each temptation he makes a way to escape from it. And that is so, must be so, because God is faithful. The state of salvation to which God has called us would be a delusion if there were an insuperable difficulty to our continuing in it. We have in this verse, perhaps, the most practical and therefore the clearest exposition to be found of the doctrine of free-will in relation to God’s overruling power. God makes an open road, but then man himself must walk in it. God controls circumstances, but man uses them. That is where his responsibility lies.

Now to 2 Cor 1:8. We have a very frank confession from the great apostle Paul himself that some of the difficulties he faced were so severe, so perplexing, that he became suicidal! he was not alone. Many of the great characters of the Bible faced the same problem. Here is a sample -

  • Saul: 1 Sam 16:14
  • David: Ps 38:4, 42:5, 6, 11 (see also Acts 13:22)
  • Elijah: 1 Kings 19:4
  • Jonah: Jonah 4:3, 9
  • Job: Job 3:11, 26, 10:1, 30:15-17
  • Moses: Ex 32:32
  • Jeremiah: Jer 20:14, 18
  • Jesus: Mark 14:34-36, Luke 22:44. See also Isa 53:3.

All except Saul survived these depressive episodes. We should pause to note that while a variety of things lead up to each of these depressive and suicidal episodes, the final ideas about suicide are always triggered by a loss of hope. People feel overwhelmed, crushed and at a complete loss; but in the end, each results in a loss of hope.

The cure for depression always involves getting help to restore hope by dealing with whatever has caused the loss of hope. Such causes are numerous and diverse such as overwork, delusions of grandeur, exhaustion, chronic sickness and/or pain, abuse (whether sexual, pharmacological, emotional or financial, etc), acute disappointment, biochemical imbalance, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc, etc. For some this will require professional (medical) help to treat the underlying cause. For Christians this will also involve the three great virtues of Faith, Hope and Love (1 Cor 13:13). The order is important. It is our faith that enables a trust in Christ our Great Hope (1 Tim 1:1) who always encourages us to love others.

In all the cases listed above, each person found comfort in the Lord and His promises, but the cure involved several other things as well.

  • David often needed to confess (Ps 38, 51) to relieve guilt.
  • Elijah needed rest and food and the comfort of an angel of heaven (1 Kings 19:5, 7) followed by a job to get his mind off himself (1 Kings 19:15-18)
  • Jonah needed to be re-acquainted with grace (Jonah 4:9-11)
  • Job needed a sense of proportion (Job 38-42)
  • Moses needed to understand that he could not take responsibility for others’ problems (he was overly compassionate??) (Ex 32:33-35)
  • Jeremiah needed a listening ear and the Lord was the only one left to provide this. That is Jeremiah turned to the Lord and complained! (Jer 20:7-17)
  • Jesus also found comfort in prayer (Ps 34:18) but in His extreme case, He was also comforted by an angel from heaven (Luke 22:43)
  • Paul took comfort in the resurrection and the support from the prayers of his friends (2 Cor 1:9-11)

Thus, each person’s need was met in a different way; but all involved receiving help from outside the person in order to restore hope.

  • While the suggestions of suicide seem excessive, it is not unreasonable and the post is well presented and useful. +1
    – Steve
    Oct 6, 2020 at 0:11

Both of these expressions from Paul are pointing toward the provision that God provides which enables His promise to remain sure.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ...he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

2 Corinthians 1:8... far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.

Both assume (and we would faithfully expect) that ON OUR OWN, there would be trouble which WAS unbearable. Within the relationship we have through Jesus to the Father, and the support of His spirit, we ARE provided with that which is NOT of ourselves.

Both of Paul's letters reflect this support and the dependence that God expects us to live under. Just as Jesus claimed no credit for his miracles, or sought to endure on his own at any stage, we are likewise called and drawn to do the same - the tougher the trial the more we need (and should seek) God's faithful provision. Yet, always in the timing and measure He chooses in love, mercy and wisdom combined.

We may and will despair - this is opportunity for faith growing and maturing.

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. Jam 1:3

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