The Way of Escape in Scripture
When facing trouble or trauma, who doesn’t want “the way of escape.” “For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently (Amplified). What comfort this scripture bring, especially if you don’t know the source or reason for the trial?
The Terrible T’s
When Kitty and I were raising our children, the subject of the terrible twos was a common subject. If your two-year-old child were acting up in any way – well, it was the terrible twos! I wasn’t very fond of that designation, because I don’t remember a time when I thought of any of my children as being terrible, whatever age they might have been. I was thinking about that subject the other day while I was reading the New Testament book of James because he refers to, what I call, the terrible t’s – trials and temptations. Nearly all of the first chapter of his book moves around that theme. In it, he tells us to be happy (right?!), to persevere, and to be single-minded in our faith whenever we are tried. He also reminds us that temptation does not come from God, but rather from our evil desires. God, he says, is unchangingly good and gives good and perfect gifts. Then he closes the chapter with a reminder that while we are patiently rejoicing in our trials, we should be careful not to take things into our own hands to make them work out. It only leads to fleshly displays of arrogance and hasty words that destroy. The proper response, he points out, is to listen to and obey the Word. It is there that we can find liberty, blessing, and the way of escape. Further, instead of talking about our spirituality, let’s stay away from sin and seek opportunities to help the disadvantaged.
Trials, Temptation, Tribulation
I just love the way James gets to the point and offers practical help. Still, it’s hard to get away from those pesky trials and temptations. So, I chased them down (at least the word meanings) and found them not to be so scary. You can read about them from the Apostle Paul in Romans 5.
- Trials, I found out, are meant to prove us. They are naturally occurring life situations that we all face. Our response proves what lies inside of us.
- Temptation, on the other hand, is meant to persecute us – to draw us away and entice us – to just incessantly call out to us from somewhere inside our own evil desires.
- Tribulation. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this world, you will have tribulation (trouble). But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (the way of escape).” Oh, great! trials and temptations aren’t enough? Now we get tribulations as well! Well, not actually. Tribulation or trouble is meant to press us – to make us feel pressure. From what? From trials and temptations. In other words, trials and temptations = tribulation. That is where we feel that life is squeezing us.
Common To Man
But here is some great news: Paul said (I Cor. 10:13) that these things are part of the human condition – “common to man” – and therefore within our God-given human ability to respond. He goes on to say that God has prearranged life in such a way that with every kind of trouble, He has provided with it a “way of escape” that makes the process bearable and victorious. What is that way of escape? Well, f the problems are common to man, then the way of escape is also common to us. In other words, as Christians, we are spiritually hard-wired to make good choices in bad times if we take time to focus our faith and think clearly. That’s simply amazing when you think about it. That old lie that says we have no power over evil is simply that – an old lie!
Here are 4 things about the way of escape God has provided:
- The way of escape then is personal – God has embedded the escape plan into the situations you face.
- The way of escape is practical – The way of escape is like Moses’ shepherd’s staff. When he extended it toward Red Sea, the water parted. Remember, your deliverance is at your fingertips.
- The way of escape is pivotal – We really do have a choice about how we respond. The Holy Spirit has hardwired to choose what is good if we will listen to Him. Paul said, “Be not overcome with evil; but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
- Finally, the way of escape is positional. Notice again the amplified version of verse 13, ” but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place),”
The Way of Escape – A Landing Place
That landing place is your new position. No longer is there a need to see yourself as a spiritual victim, trapped in an unfortunate situation with no way out. Further, even though God can, and often does, send supernatural resources in times of trouble, this verse seems to indicate something further – the clear-mindedness to see the way out that is right before you. I have found that when I pray and worship I think more clearly when I am face trouble. In the closing chapter of James, he asks, “Is anyone of you in trouble? He should pray.” Prayer and worship clear the panic so that we can see the “way of escape” that God has provided “along with the temptation.”