Google search defines a misconception as this: a view or opinion that is incorrect because it is based on faulty thinking or understanding.
As believers, or better yet, as human beings, we can be easily misled either by faulty information or outright deceptive news. We’re susceptible to propaganda that tends to reinforce a bias or we can be duped or fooled by a very intelligent, yet, devious individual. Statistics can be put together in such a way to distort reality and peer-reviewed journals can demonstrate socially accurate information while championing morally depraved lifestyles.
Understanding how a subtle or small deviation can ruin a Christians’ understanding of biblical truth we need not look very far. For example, if two NASA space scientists want to send the next space shuttle to the moon and one of them uses the metric measuring system and the other uses the imperial measuring system, the space shuttle will either safely land on the moon or disastrously fly through it.
Another example would be giving a child the over the counter antacid drug simethicone instead of Smarties candies. Both are very similar in appearance, size, and color but giving a child too much of one over the other will either induce a sugar rush or worse, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, or a headache.
A misconception can lead to catastrophic astronomical failure or to great discomfort in a small child. As a scientist or a parent, we understand that giving attention to details can prevent mistakes and ultimately help us progress in life without these avoidable hiccups.
The same level of attention to detail is required when learning and practicing biblical truths.
Let us delve into misconception number one.
- “God will only give me what I can handle.”
This statement is often read on social media posts that belong to hyper-active, happiness focused Christian ministries. There is nothing wrong with desiring happiness and joy, in fact, we’re called to enjoy these emotions.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
Another mention of this is made by the wisest king Israel ever had.
“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”Ecclesiastes 8:15
Jesus teaches his disciples that they will face many trials. (John 16:33) Apostle James, brother to Jesus, reinforces this in his epistle by reminding the church that we need to consider it a joyful experience whenever we face many trials. (James 1:2-3).
The great misconception about this idea is that a believer’s life will continuously abound in abundance and joy. Some believe we should be free from disease, pestilence, plagues, famine, financial loss, bodily harm, or even homicide. Others consider the common cold the result of spiritual oppression.
These are horrible side effects of sin in our world because it cripples the heart of man and the physical nature of our universe. We are just as susceptible to pain and loss today as our Lord was two millennia ago.
This form of Christianity is more focused on personal comfort than the person of Christ. Now, let us pause to clear the air a bit. We do not condone the idea that a believer OR an unbeliever ought to live a life in abject poverty or a life of pain and loss.
These are two dangerous extremes that proliferate in our Christian circles today. The first leads people to the infamous yet resilient “prosperity gospel” and the other to a sad form of legalism mixed with self-denial called asceticism. The first binds people to materialism and the second to idealism.
Apostle Paul starts his second epistle to the church of Corinth with a story about how great a struggle he faced on one of his many missionary campaigns in Asia minor. He relates:
“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. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” – 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
We must build our faith in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Rock of our faith and the only stable foundation worth building our lives on. (Isaiah 26:4; Matthew 7:24-25)
For in hiding our hearts and minds in Christ we can endure all forms of persecution and loss and come out on the other side of it all as champions. For if God permits us to undergo any sort of trial by fire or trial by pressure, so be it. We are Christ’s in peace and in war. (1 Peter 4:12-19)
Let us not replace the splendorous opportunity of suffering for Christ should that be our calling.
Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias reminds us:
“The Bible assures us that at all times God is with us. He is our comforter; He is our healer. He is our physician; He is our provider. He knows better than we do. At all times, God is with us.”
It is strange for us to call God our comforter if we forego perplexity. It is strange that we call Him our healer and physician when we shun sickness and deny its grip on our body. We call God our provider yet we curse at the idea that we should undergo a time of need.
For if we are in Christ we are able to go through all things; even if it costs us our lives, we shall overcome.
So should our Sovereign Lord place you in a situation too great to bear; a circumstance too painful to endure; a loss so grave you rather not think of it, lay your burden on the shoulders of Him who is willing to handle it for you.(Matthew 11:28-20)