#1 of 2011: God WILL Give You More than You Can Handle

I had no idea how many people search for the phrase “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” when I wrote this post. All I knew was the idea that God didn’t give us too much was a lie. And a big fat one at that.

I wasn’t trying to encourage people in their struggles, so much as remind them that God does not protect us from struggles. There is no glass ceiling on suffering. My hope in writing this post was to tell believers that we aren’t meant to carry all of our burdens alone, but more so, that no where in the Bible does this whole “God not giving you more than you can handle” thing exist. We made it up to feel better about our problems, I’m sure.

But truth is more powerful than the most sophisticated lie. Truth brings light. His Light brings clarity and comfort, peace and provision…and there is nothing He can’t “handle.”

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God WILL Give You More than You Can Handle

I don’t remember the first time I heard the phrase “God will never give you more than you can handle,” I just know that, at some point, it became a Christian-ism for me. I felt comforted knowing that God would never allow anything to happen that I could not “handle,” whatever that meant. I’d always be okay. Things would never be so terrible, as to crush me.

I remember quite a few years ago even writing those words to a Jewish friend of mine who was going through a difficult time. I felt like it was in the Bible. It seemed like it should be in the Bible. It sounded scripture-y. I didn’t actually check to see if it was in the Bible however.

But then I got knocked up side the head with the truth. Last week I wrote the post, You CANNOT Be Anything You Want, which was part one in my latest series, Don’t Believe the Lie. You see, that whole “God won’t give you more than you can handle” business is a lie, as well. A nice, big, fat one, too. Oh, how Satan has twisted that one and we’ve bought it.

The truth is, the Bible doesn’t talk about giving or not giving us more than we can handle.

The verse that Christians so often confuse with this phrase is 1Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

The key word here is “temptation.” We are promised here by the apostle Paul that God will not allow us to be “tempted beyond our ability.” Temptation is very different from the vast, exhaustive list in life of anything that could happen to us. God doesn’t say He won’t give us what we can’t handle. He says we won’t be tempted beyond our ability.

What is our ability? Well the second half of the verse, I think, helps answer that question: “but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Our ability is tied to the way of escape. We are offered an exit door with every temptation. It is through that exit door, in part, that we receive the ability to resist the temptation. We cannot endure a temptation unless we escape it. Our ability is also measured by our maturity in Christ and our reliance upon the Holy Spirit, among other things.

God certainly does allow us to experience more than we can handle, though. Jesus was given more than He could humanly “handle.” He was beaten and crucified to death. He died without sin, however, because while He was tempted, He knew the way of escape.

I heard Beth Moore discuss this topic once. She referred to a parent losing a child. She told the story of a woman she knew who had watched 6 of her babies die, one after another. Years later she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that essentially killed each of her children.

Was this woman’s loss enough for her to “handle?”  We say, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle,”,  and we lie to ourselves. Was burying 6 infants more than this woman could handle? I think so. She reportedly fell into a dark and consuming depression. She couldn’t handle it. She wasn’t meant to handle it. Years later, Beth Moore saw this woman, after losing her own foster child. The two women wept together over the loss of their children. They could not handle the pain alone. We are not meant to either.

God will inevitably allow us to experience more than we can handle in perhaps the death of a parent, or a spouse. Perhaps it is watching a life-long dream wither away. Soldiers who have watched their friends die in combat. Mental illness, depression, disease. Or even the realization that you have been wasting your life and have nothing to show for it. Any of these things might be more than we can handle and that’s the point.

Christianity is not the guarantee of an easy life, but the abundant life. It makes us uncomfortable to think about suffering loss and God allowing that loss. Don’t get me started on Job. It wrecks me. God wants us to cling to Him, though, to hold onto Him for dear life sometimes, because, without Him, we would drift away into nothingness. We will suffer greatly, at some time in our life, and it is because of our  sufferings and through our sufferings that we can become more like Jesus. Paul wrote, for example:

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Philippians 3:10

I want to know Christ and, if sharing in His sufferings is one way, then so be it. I accept the idea that God will, perhaps at more than one point in my life, allow me to experience such pain and loss that I will be broken under the weight of it. Then I can look to my Lord, the lover of my soul, and cry out to Him, knowing He is the only One who can save me. (And if I forget, I have this blog post to come back to at that point.)

I do not want to buy into the lie any longer of naively believing that there is some magic limit or glass ceiling on suffering. There isn’t, and we demean the power of Christ’s sufferings when we assume there is.

Have you falsely believed this lie, like I once did? Do you think Christians suffer for believing this lie, and if so, how and why?

 

11 thoughts on “#1 of 2011: God WILL Give You More than You Can Handle”

  1. Man…..just earlier today I actually commented that exact quote, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” on somebody’s status. Reason #677 to read, read, read your Bible. That way you can know if it’s really God’s truth or just something a well meaning person made up. It’ll help you “seperate the chaff from the wheat” ,so to speak, when it comes to sayings like this…….Wait, that whole chaff/wheat thing is in the Bible right?…………..Oh yeah Luke 3:17

    Great post by the way! And just to let you know, I went back and changed my comment on that person’s status.

  2. And how. But how comforting it is to know that, as the Scripture says, His “strength is made perfect in weakness.” All of our shortcomings, suffering, and desperation are simply scenesetters for demonstrations of His power and deliverance in our lives, and yet additional glorious chapters in our testimonies.

  3. For years I have believe this very lie and have quoted those exact words to countless people who were going through a tough time. It seemed like that was the “right” thing to say even though I didn’t really believe what I was saying. Thanks for the fresh perspective. A dear friend passed away about 2 weeks ago leaving behind her husband and 2 year old twin girls. I cannot began to understand his level of pain but I can just imagine it is definitely more than he can handle right now.

  4. 1 Corinthians 10:13
    There hath 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 ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

    1. Mark, I quote this scripture in my post. Are you referring to it as proof that God will or won’t give us more than we can handle? Because this verse specifically refers to temptation, not loss or suffering or difficulties in life.

      1. @Nicole Cottrell, when losses happen, think about the temptations that are presented that we turn to for comfort instead of Jesus. Revenge, hatred, self pity, FEAR! (devil LOVES to use that one). Is this making sense?

  5. @Nicole: I completely agree on this one… There are MANY things we as Christians need to look at! A big one is JUDGE NOT! We as Christians are commanded to judge and will judge the angels!
    Here’s the article: http://kgov.com/judging
    Other good ones (Is God in Time… Is the Future Open etc etc) are under the Writing tab and Pastor Bob has a 30 minute downloadable mp3 every weekday!

  6. I’ve heard that quote my whole life always believed it. I don’t think that it ever hurt me. I saw the title of your post and thought u were agianst God, just didn’t seem right. After reading it though I feel a lot better I just found out I might have an incurable diesase( sorry about the spelling) I find out I a couple of days I’m heartbroken and depressed. I always believed that quote and wonder why I got this. I’ve always been a really good person or atleast I thought. Knowing that through our sufferings we become more like Jesus and through our suffering God will be there to keep me from falling into nothingnes.

  7. I think what you’ve got here is simply re-defining. When the circumstances in life become overwhelming, and you feel like giving up, saying following the Lord is not answering the questions, those are the temptations that allow us to fall back on the truth of I Cor. 10:13. it’s just taking a leap over one step in the process of “stuff” vs. temptation. Make sense?

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