God WILL Give You More Than You Can Handle

God Will Give You More

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 the death of a parent, or a spouse. Perhaps it is watching a life-long dream wither away and die. 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 are 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?

77 thoughts on “God WILL Give You More Than You Can Handle”

  1. Wow this was powerful. Thank you for your insight. You are right that God does give us more than we can handle so that we learn to lean on and depend on Him. I think when we believe this lie, that when something does happen that we can’t handle, then we lose our faith because we were believing the wrong thing to begin with.

  2. Wow, I so agree. If we believe this lie, then life’s suffering doesn’t make sense- and this is when people usually deny God and say things like “How could God let this happen to me?”

    I was always taught this “christian-ism” in light of the verse (I can’t remember where it is, sorry!) about being refined in the fire- and how we wouldn’t be held over the fire long enough to be destroyed- that we would be pulled out.

    Something like that!
    Wow, my Bible knowledge is terrible!

    Thank you for this today, for speaking truth. This is what the church needs to communicate. They keep thinking that people want to be comforted, and so they don’t tell the story- but people just want the truth, and they want to know what to expect, and they want to learn about God’s character, and who He actually is, and what Jesus actually calls us to.

  3. Great post! Hearing that trite albeit well-meaning phrase is so infuriating while going through a tough time. It is nice to hear someone speak the truth. Yes, God gives us more than we can handle but he also gave us companionship for which I am very thankful. That story about the woman and her dead infants was just heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Life is a turdwagon, which is why I ignore this phrase and others like it. There are two euphemisms that will make me shut people out: “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle,” “this too shall pass,” (my grandparents’ favorite), and “everything happens for a reason” (my mom’s favorite). They may as well be saying “we’ve got nothing useful to tell you, but we’ll invalidate your frustration with quasi-Christian buzz words.” How often do we forget 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 when we throw these empty promises out? The truth is, sometimes, we get stuck with a bad situation that is only going to get worse and it’s going to be with us until we die. The second truth is that most of us will only deal with the foibles of living in a developed nation with religious freedom and free speech. My big problem of the day is having to deal with homeowner’s insurance taking their sweet *** time calling me back so that I can repair my bathroom and that of the downstairs neighbor. As frustrating as that is, I’m not being beaten, raped, branded, or watching my family get executed by soldiers for my faith, nor am I watching eight year olds get conscripted into the army.

    1. joey, you list so many good ones here. I could write two more posts! And yes, my daily problems range from migraines, to potty training, to disagreeing with my mom sometimes. Most American Christians are not suffering. Imagine if were were…there would be a whole lot of b$#%&@!*^ and moaning. (Sigh) We are blessed to live in the U.S., thanks for the reminder!

      1. Oh God can make us Americans suffer. You just be careful now or you’ll be next. I’ve heard some stories and lived some that would rock your boat upsidedown a few times. We just don’t all suffer. “Only the sons…” ya know.
        I’m glad ppl are reading their Bibles for themselves now. I was starting to think I was on my own. Guess maybe just around me. Praise God.

        1. Hi, Charles yes prohaps God allows you guys to suffer as christians so can depend on HIM, I have been born again by The Spirit of God by watching Paul Washer’s video’s and I’m forced to stay in The catholic church by my parents and it’s a living nightmare because nobody who’s a christian comes to me to help me I have but only God.

  5. I’m going to be the oddball and say, this post I could have done without. On this day when I am seriously struggling, I need the comfort of knowing that God is on my side and not trying to break me apart.
    Your post showed a very strong argument towards the truth, and that I agree with. But perhaps these words are just meant to comfort, to bolster the strength of the everyday Christian who is just doing their best? I know not everyone wants it, but I would love to be told that this is what God chose for me, and that I WILL survive it. I already have faith and courage in the face of adversity and look to God to help me. If I lean on the comfort of those words, why is that wrong?

    1. Ade, I’m so sorry that you are struggling and suffering today. Although the idea that God won’t give us things we can’t handle isn’t true, I hope you will take comfort that He is definitely on your side and He can handle anything and everything. Check out Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7. He cares for you, and He will sustain you when things are much too hard for you to handle in your own strength.

    2. Ade, I’m so sorry if my post has discouraged you in any way.

      I do think God is on your side,(He is on all believers side) and that he is not trying to break you apart.

      I struggle with this myself–reconciling what God allows to happen with what He has made happen. I don’t think God hurts us but He allows hurt in our lives.

      My point though, was to caution us on just throwing around a phrase that sounds really good but has no Biblical support and thus no power of the Holy Spirit to encourage, convict, or comfort. We need God’s Word, not shallow Christian expressions.

      I think finding comfort in the arms of Jesus, and what He actually says, can provide us real comfort. His words are, in fact, life-giving and that’s what I certainly need.

      1. I don’t guess, in my emotionally overwrought yammering, I expressed myself quite right. It’s me who’s sorry!! You didn’t discourage me … in fact, I’m pretty sure that would have been impossible, given. I was merely expressing my shock that for once, I didn’t agree with you. That’s not to say I didn’t understand you, or think you had a very valid point, just that I think it’s ok sometimes for Christians to use super comfort phrases.
        I usually don’t like the clique-y *superChristian* jargon, but this one I do. Perhaps there is no biblical basis for it, but it still makes me smile. I wear a chain around my neck with the Serenity Prayer every moment of every day, and I was just as shocked to find that it’s not an actual, in the Bible prayer — at least not that I can find! — but it’s words still give me comfort.

  6. I’m actually torn over this post and it might just be because of terminology. While I agree that “God will never give you more than you can handle” is not scripture, I think it comes out of gathering many scriptures, not one – most specifically those dealing with suffering.

    You see, to me, the only thing I couldn’t “handle” is separation from God. Praise God I know that will never happen. When looking at Job and Paul as examples – I see joy in suffering and trials. “Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2 God freely allowed Satan to test Job, knowing that Job would remain strong in his faith. Even with the false advice and euphemisms from his miserable comforters. If it was more than he could “handle” wouldn’t it break his love of God?

    To me, when you know, understand, and live in God’s sovereignty, you begin to have a peace that surpasses all understanding – knowing that nothing that happens to you in life is greater than your relationship with the everlasting God. Even the loss of your kids, spouse, family, home… As long as you can still commune with the Almighty God, you can handle – survive – everything. Thus I think phrases like “God will never give you more than you can handle” originate.

    I think the bigger problem is that these phrases get thrown around in the church – and outside the church. They become pat answers meant to comfort. Like you’ve said, we cling to them for comfort when life throws lemons. But what’s missing from these phrases is the theology on WHY God will never give you more than you can handle.

    When trials come I still grieve, cry, question, and pray. It’s the way God wired me – and Jesus had all the same emotions. Just because I have those emotions, doesn’t mean that I can’t “handle” the trial. I disagree in that I think Jesus could “handle” the cross. He KNEW that it was God’s plan, design, and the ultimate way to bring us home. He WANTED to die, and I think saying that he didn’t, and just sought a way out, minimizes the sacrifice he made for us.

    I read this post minutes after you posted (yay for baby taking a morning nap) and I’ve been muttling in back and forth in my head since. I guess I have to believe that God will never give me more than I can handle. He can take my kids, my home, my husband, my money and I know that I will handle it because HE alone is my comfort, my shield, my strength, my rock. I know that HE is sovereign, that everything that happens to me is for HIS Glory. And knowing that allows me to live in the peace that I don’t have to fear the trials that will come. And if I knew I couldn’t “handle” my trials – what’s stopping me from fearing them? And isn’t fear the opposite of joy?

    1. This is a tough one, and I think your comments are great, Abbi. I think there needs to be a definition of “handle” that we work from, because I understand what you’re saying. So, according to good old Dictionary.com for this particular verb, “handle” means “to deal with.” I know it’s not much, but it gives us a working definition, at least.

      Most importantly, I believe we should recognize that “handle” does not mean simply “survive,” as you put it, otherwise I would be in full agreement with you. I also agree with you about all that scripture, and God will not allow us to be destroyed–that we will indeed survive… and eternally! We share this hope and promise.

      But like you yourself said, “When trials come I still grieve, cry, question, and pray. It’s the way God wired me – and Jesus had all the same emotions.” Technically, with the above definition of “handling” something, I believe that we cannot only not handle things, but that we’re NOT MADE to handle such things. We’re not meant “to deal with” trials and tribulations on our own, but like you, are meant to run to our good Father, who IS able to help us handle it. We have to fight against our desire for self-sufficiency and be Christ-sufficient.

      I know it may seem like semantics, but it’s not. We’re not meant to handle something, we’re meant to let God handle it. And to answer your question, I think that as soon as we start understanding that God will help us through such trials, that is how we do not fear them. That is how we rely upon Him.

      My two cents, at least.

      1. Jon – thanks for the definition and I understand what you are saying. But I still struggle…

        As Paul said, “It is not I but Christ who lives in me” and therefore when I hear the phrase “God will not give me more than I can handle” I automatically translate that to mean that because I have Christ, he won’t. Because it is not I who will have “to deal with it” but Christ in me.

        As far as emotions go – and maybe I am just too Myers-Briggs T on this one – but I don’t equate showing emotions to not being able to handle something. Showing emotions is natural, we show them every day. I may cry when I watch a movie, does that mean I can’t deal with what’s happening in it?

        I can see how God gives us trials to draw us closer to him and I can understand how that scripture has been applied to this phase – in that because we weren’t made to handle it, we will therefore be drawn to Christ to handle it for us. And I can agree with that. I still struggle because if Christ is in me, then if I can’t “deal with” a trial, does that mean at that time I am not in Christ?

        I guess ultimately I view it as I can deal with any situation because it is Christ in me who deals with it, not actually myself. And that by nature will draw me closer to him.

          1. Johanna, exactly. God can handle anything and the responsibility is on Him. We cling to him, obey Him, and He rescues us…it’s not us rescuing or “handling it” ourselves.

    2. Abbi, you raise some great points. Jonathan’s reply to you echoes a lot of what I would say, in fact. To one of Jonathan’s points, we are not meant to “handle” or “deal with” life trials on our own. We can look to anyone in the world, who does not know Christ, and recognize this fact (side note: I hear believers say these words to non-believers as well, as I once did). We are, I think, meant to handle our struggles, only in so much as, we rely on Christ as our source of strength and our supply. Paul wrote in 2Corinthians “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Paul was stoned, beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned. And He certainly recognized his sufferings but he never said he “handled it” or he “got by” or “dealt.” He said Christ was His strength.

      I will disagree with you on this point too–I do not think Jesus wanted to die, not even close. You said “He WANTED to die, and I think saying that he didn’t, and just sought a way out, minimizes the sacrifice he made for us.” To me, the fact that He asked that the cup of death be taken from Him, and asked His Father is there was any other way to save the world was possible, yet he still went to the cross and died for us is what makes His sacrifice so great. He is God but He was also a man, who was all too aware of the pain and suffering of a crucifixion. I think Jesus absolutely did not want to die, but that He wanted to save and so he chose one to accomplish the other.

      Words are important. The casual statement of “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle” sounds nice but is not Truth, in my estimation. It is a slice of truth perhaps but not the full measure of God’s Word and is therefore a poor and even harmful substitution. I desire for believers to be responsibly handling God’s Word and actually knowing what it says and what it means. This edited phrase, since it is not scripture, removes the power of conviction, comfort, and encouragement of the Holy Spirit. It’s a nice-ism when we don’t know what to say but we know we need to say something. Let’s have believers know the Word and speak that. I know you have a love of God’s Word, Abbi, and an understanding of it, as well. I’d like more Christians to do the same.

      Thank you for your thoughtful and passionate comments on this topic

      1. Sorry it’s taken a while for me to respond to this – I wanted to take some time to research and read scripture so that I could coherently put words to why I believe that Christ WANTED to die.

        I believe in the hypostatic union – that Christ was fully God AND fully man. If Christ is fully God, then he is fully sovereign. Being fully sovereign, he simply couldn’t do anything he didn’t want to, otherwise he wouldn’t be sovereign. But that’s a simple way to put it because it foregoes that he was also fully man. Being fully man is one level that makes his sacrifice so powerful. Because he could have changed the plan – he was afterall, God. I don’t agree with your interpretation of the scripture I believe that you are quoting (Matt 26:39 – And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”) What I believe and what I have read in commentaries is that the “cup” is referring to temptation, not death. I have heard this passage referenced as Christ’s ultimate temptation – temptation to not do the will of the Father and change the plans. Yet another example for us that in everything, we can do the will of the Father as Christ did. I believe that Christ came to earth knowing he would die, he preached it (Mark 10:45) – but that doesn’t mean that it would be easy or that Christ wouldn’t be TEMPTED to make new plans. Therefore he begged God to remove that temptation.

        One of the most awing things I found in my study of this topic was from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. He talks about Christ’s suffering for us being multi-dimensional. There were things GREATER than the physical death that Christ suffered on the cross – the psychological pain of bearing the guilt for our sins and the one that blew me away – bearing the wrath of God. On the cross Jesus cries out “My God My God, why have you forsaken me?” What does that mean? Did God the Father actually leave Jesus to endure the pain alone? Yep. He did. He left Jesus to bear the weight of our guilt and sins and the Fathers wrath by himself. “As Jesus bore the guild of our sins alone, God the Father, the mighty Creator, the Lord of the universe, poured out on Jesus the fury of his wrath: Jesus became the object of the intense hatred of sin and vengeance against sin which God had patiently stored up since the beginning of the world” (Systematic Theology pg 574-575). Wow. In quoting the Psalm, Jesus knew the separation from God was temporary. It wasn’t a cry of total despair – but it was separation none the less.

        Believing that Jesus WANTED to die is one thing that makes all of this even more powerful. He wasn’t just on a mission from His Father, chained to doing the Father’s will. No, he is God, becoming man to take my sin, guilt, shame and God’s wrath for that sin. I’ve heard several pastors use this quote (I just wish I could find the origin!) “I am so sinful Jesus HAD to die, but I am so LOVED Jesus WANTED to die.” I am so LOVED, he wanted me so much, that he did this for me. Wow, again. He had the choice, he was fully God. He did what he wanted.

        1. Ok one more thing (maybe) – I reread what I wrote and I actually disagree with myself. That will teach me to try to post something right before nap time!

          In Matthew 26:39, while I do believe that Christ was aligning himself with the Father to remove the temptation (afterall, isn’t that what most prayer is?) I don’t believe the “cup” Christ is speaking of, is iteself temptation. I also don’t believe it’s death, but rather everything Christ is about to take on – our sins and God’s wrath, but it wasn’t physical death. I believe that Christ is saying – ok Father, if there’s any other way, now’s the time, but if not, I want what you want.

          Maybe that’s a little better?

        2. Abbi, first off, I apologize for taking so long to respond to your comment.

          I fully meant to respond sooner and with the daily blog stuff and mom-hood, I just kept forgetting, so I apologize.

          Thank you also for taking the time to write such a well researched and articulate response. You are impressive!

          I think overall, that we simply disagree on that seemingly small word: “wanted.”

          I think what you added to the discussion is so important and relevant, I am just not convinced that Jesus wanted to die.

          Again, I have to return to Matthew 26:39. I am glad we agree that the “cup” was not simply temptation, nor was it just death, as we think of it.

          I agree that the cup was filled with death, pain, anguish–but also God’s wrath, separation from God, the sin’s of the world and the temptation to not submit to God’s Will.

          Christ, who never sin, who was blameless, was about to take upon Himself the perversity of the world. That is astonishing. He was tempted, I believe to choose another alternative rather than death. He could have called down a legion of angels and escaped death, had He chosen to do so.

          Also, that Christ–fully God and fully man–was about to be separated from His Father, who He had never been without. It physically hurts me to just think of this.

          However, all of this only solidifies for me the fact that He did not want to go to the cross. He asked that the “cup” filled with all of those unthinkable realities be taken from Him.

          Also, Hebrews 5:7 confirms, I think my stance: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”

          This verse confirms that Jesus sought out any other way other than death. It says however, that He was heard, but not rescued from death. Instead, He chose die.

          I do not find this convenient, but added to the Bible by the Spirit for a purpose. God chose to allow both the Matthew and Hebrews verses of scripture to exist, to remind us all and underscore the fact that Christ did not want to die, but chose to die.

          The Father gave us and gives us all choice. It is our choice to choose Christ and choose obedience to Him day after day or not. Jesus was offered a choice too. Just as we obey because we love Him, so did Christ choose to obey–because He loves us.

          His choice however, does not diminish the fact that He did not want to suffer such physical and spiritual agony.

          I think part of the power of the Gospel is that Jesus did not want to go to the cross, but He wanted to save us. His willingness to die cannot be confused as a desire to die.

          The best analogy I can think of is delivering a baby. When it came time for me to give birth to my first child, I can say with all certainty, as the pain surged, I did not want to deliver a baby.

          If there could have been a way for me to “pass that cup” I would have (perhaps C section) but I could not. My goal, the prize, of seeing my child required that I go through the pain.

          I was willing to go through the pain of delivery, even though I did not want to, in order to meet my child.

          Christ too was willing to suffer death and wrath and separation from God, even though He did not desire to do so, in order to save us. That fact, is to me, a crucial component of His sacrificial love–like a mother surrendering herself into pain, in order to see her baby–Christ too surrendered Himself to the cross to see us in heaven.

          Abbi, thank you again for your wonderful comments and this ongoing discussion. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I appreciate being challenged in my thinking and hope you do as well. Blessings to you!

  7. I am really excited about this post. I think it’s very important to root out the lies that we believe as Christians, that are God’s holy words twisted by Satan. This statement is I believe part of a very dangerous set of beliefs in our Christian culture that breeds a watered down, feel good message, that God is our buddy who just wants us to feel good and if you can be good and we will be rewarded.
    I remember the time that I realized that this was statement was a lie. Even though it was spoken with love and with the best intentions. I was pregnant with my first child and I was finding it really hard and so scared to give birth and go through labour. Someone said that to me and for some reason this time it didn’t ring true. I looked through the Bible and couldn’t find it anywhere, and I had a God revelation.. that He has never promised that to us.. in fact He promised us really tough times, and tough situations but we have God on our side, He is our rock and our strong tower and our comforter that we run to and cling to when we are going through tough times. And also we are blessed (hopefully) with other Christians who can come along side us and comfort, encourage us as we pass through the valley of death, whatever that valley looks like from person to person.
    One thing I must say is that the title of the post God will give you more than you can handle, I am not so keen on. I don’t believe its God who gives us tough times, but that the world is broken and tough things happen to anyone and everyone.
    Great post Nicole!

    1. Adriel, I agree with you that the title is not great. I don’t think God “gives” us more than we can handle, so much as He allows things to happen in His sovereignty. I was just trying to make a straight comparison with the “God won’t give you more than you can handle” phrase.

      Thanks for the great comment too!

    2. Wow, this is one ismrepsive post. It kind of gave me goose bumps. I love the term ‘Christianisms’ by the way.Those phrases you mention, do give me courage and hope. But I don’t like the idea of a God pulling our strings as if we’re marionets. And I don’t believe God is like that.Got here from Voiceboks.

  8. I was just pondering this verse in my heart just before I logged on to your blog. It has been stirring in me for awhile.

    I have always approached this verse with God providing an escape from the heaviness of the situation. When in fact, it says the opposite, that he will make a way so we DON’T escape the situation, but rather endure through it.

    In the immediate sense, to endure my trial is far worse than escaping it. Eternally speaking, however, it’s the “more than I can handle” that brings the refining fire.

    Jesus had to die on the cross before He could sit on the throne. We, as His disciples, should expect nothing less.

    There have been many times I could not handle my trial, but that is exactly where God wanted me so that I can plan out my escape, but rather rely on His provision, strength and ability.

    1. Melissa, I love this line “Jesus had to die on the cross before He could sit on the throne. We, as His disciples, should expect nothing less.”

      So well said and so true! We will most likely not suffer the same pain as Christ but we should expect to share in His sufferings, as Paul wrote.

  9. I used to meditate on the lie that you mentioned, in bad times. But that’s also when I would turn to God and try to hold his hand as tightly as possible. So, yes, God doesn’t give us anything that we can handle–but to add to that line, people should say “without Him”.

    We cannot walk alone.

  10. Truth be told, I’m a very young Christian, but I never would have been one, had God not used situation after situation that I could not handle. It is only when God reveals that everything,…absolutely everything is too much for you, that you can learn to submit everything to Him. How can you yield a life when there are still places where you can say, “don’t worry, I’ve got this one God.”? In reading His Word, and getting to know who God is, you realize even those situations that you thought you were fine to do in your own power, can’t be done without the constant Grace of God. We are dependent creatures, period. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’Acts 17:28 And this is my greatest joy, my absolutely inability.

  11. Truth be told, I’m a very young Christian, but I never would have been one, had God not used situation after situation that I could not handle. It is only when God reveals that everything,…absolutely everything is too much for you, that you can learn to submit everything to Him. How can you yield a life when there are still places where you can say, “don’t worry, I’ve got this one God.”? In reading His Word, and getting to know who God is, you realize even those situations that you thought you were fine to do in your own power, can’t be done without the constant Grace of God. We are dependent creatures, period. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’Acts 17:28 And this is my greatest joy, my absolute inability.

    1. Jonathan,
      So well said. You totally get it. I love what you said: “How can you yield a life when there are still places where you can say, “don’t worry, I’ve got this one God.”? So true.

      Total dependence on the Lord requires submission onto Him, not a little, not part way–but our whole lives. Not only that, the Bible never promises us an easy life. Inevitably, something will take place in our lives that will rattle us, rock our faith even. That is when we have to know that God is bigger than our problems or our hurts. He will give us more than we can handle, so that we will rely on Him more fully.

      Thanks for commenting Jonathan. Hope to see more of you around here. Blessings.

  12. Nicole: I don’t have the time to read all the comments but wanted to add that I thought you did a fantastic job of exposing the lie. I was directed here because of the discussions/posts I have had all week at my blog. There are three of them. That sounds like selfless promotion but I hope you don’t see it as that. I would like to hear your perspective if you get a chance. I have several of your posts (just not commented). Think I will put you in my Google Reader. Thanks again for a great post!

  13. If God were to never give me more than I could “handle,” I would have given up on so many things long ago…because I simply could not handle them ALONE. The whole point of that verse is that, if you allow him to, God will give you the strength and ability to stand up against temptation (and, quite frankly, anything else that could pop up in life).

    I could not “handle” losing all four of my grandparents before I reached my senior year of high school. God sent two couples in our church, who filled that role for me. That was especially wonderful on my wedding day.

    I could not “handle” being called to be a missionary outside of the United States. So he called my sister to that…and me to the life of being a youth pastor’s wife.

    I could not “handle” being childless and watching all my friends get pregnant and have children, watch my nephew’s wife have a baby within 18 months of their marriage, watch my sister get pregnant after three and a half years of marriage…when we’d been trying almost twice that long without success. God gave me the marvelous support of a best friend who understood my weird combination of delight over her impending baby and devastation at my lack of children, who walked with me, laughed with me, cried with me, and helped me both rejoice and grieve.

    And then…when I’d pretty much given up hope that we’d ever have children…three of them landed in our laps. With nine days’ notice. For people whose sum total of previous parenting experience was with, well, cats. (They eat what you put in front of them, sleep whenever they want, and are easily potty trained.) I thought I was going to die. When we ended up going to court to battle for these children, I thought I was going to die a million times before we even got before the judge. It was a horrible year, waiting to actually see the judge and have the hearing. Each delay was life-wrenching. It was AWFUL. There were days I thought I simply could not endure, when I screamed my rage to God and told him I simply could not handle this for one more second. And I’d scream and cry and rant and rave. And I’m telling you, every time I did, it was as if he said to me, “I know YOU can’t. But I can. Let me.”

    I believe Paul’s point was not even close to “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle.” We’re not SUPPOSED to be handling it anyway! The point is, there’s nothing that God can’t handle…so we should run pell-mell to him when we hit something that WE can’t handle.

    1. So very true. God doesn’t give us more than HE can hlnade.When we say we, we take the control from him to us. I can tell you from living through great trial, I don’t want to hlnade it. God hlnades everything just fine.If you want to read about that journey its a great testimony to God’s sovereign control.Go to the tab renal failure or transplant.Julie from Just Jules

  14. This is a great post, Nicole. Glad I stumbled upon it.

    I have believed the lie – I think when we believe that lie, we posture our hearts so as not to ever come close to something that could break us to the point of not being able to “handle” it.

  15. I’m in total agreement… one of my pet-peeve-Christianisms of all time! I’ve written some on the same subject, in fact. Blessings!

  16. What an honest discussion this post has triggered. I do believe that we use ‘phrases’ to explain the ‘whys’. Why God…? The Bible does say He doesn’t answer to us. Sometimes I think I, in my human pride, find it hard to believe that the Creator who formed me…doesn’t bow to what I want all the time. As for God giving us more than we can handle…I believe He does. Every day. Because it is only through Christ that we ‘live, move and have our being’. I also think this phrase has come from idea that God never intends to destroy our soul. That everything He allows…is for a reason. Even the things that we think we cannot ‘handle’. The Bible also says He won’t ‘break a bruised reed and He won’t quench a smoking flax’, and then it says ‘He works ALL things together…for our good’. Doesn’t say we will be able to handle it. But isn’t that where…”I can do all things THROUGH Christ who strengthens me”…comes in? Great post. Love the discussion.

  17. Nicole, thank you so much for posting this. Your post blessed me. Palmer Chinchen just spoke in chapel at Liberty University this morning and so many of the students took offense to his objection to ‘God not giving you more than you can handle’. It grieves my spirit to see the dogmatism and legalism I see in their defense of “scripture”…when, really, they’re not defending scripture at all. You’ve certainly got a new subscriber! God bless you!

    1. David, thank you for the encouragement. While I’m sorry to hear students rejected Chinchen’s message, I am glad they were exposed to truth. Hopefully, with God’s Spirit, that truth will be planted and take root.

  18. Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

    Trials are meant to strengthen us, we should embrace them as a learning experience from a loving Father and not complain about the things we go through. The Father wants mature sons and daughters who know the promises of His Word and will stand on them in times of trial. When we start to complain about the things that come against us we can make a 14 day journey turn into a 40 year journey. Jesus knew this and is the very reason He withdrew often into the wilderness to pray (Luke 5:16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.) and why He told us to do so as well

    Luke18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

    when we are in a constant state of communion with HIM through prayer, praise, worship, and thanksgiving HE reveals more of HIMSELF to us and this in turn reveals areas of us that need to go in order to go deeper in relationship with HIM, the more of our flesh that dies the more of HIM we get to know. So many of us want to hang on to worldly stuff and don’t want to give it up and are so blinded by such stuff, that we can’t see that HE is so much better,beyond all comprehension, than the stuff we want to hang on to. Simply hit your knees and confess because HE’S faithful and just to forgive when we do so and get back to abiding in HIM

    When we continually abide in HIM we are in HIS rest and at total peace and HE fights for us

    Exodus 14:14 The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

    Exodus 33:14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

    Matthew 26:32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

    Mark 14:28 But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.

    We must abide in HIM and fight to stay in HIS rest, HE is our ALL in ALL, when we abide in HIM, HE is our rest, HE is the ARMOR of GOD, HE is our mighty weapon through GOD.

    There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore BE DILIGENT TO ENTER that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
    (Hebrews 4:9-13)

    It is through these trials that we learn to fight in the Spirit and GOD does this on purpose

    Now these are the nations which the LORD left, that He MIGHT TEST Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel MIGHT BE TAUGHT TO KNOW WAR, at least those who had not formerly known it),
    (Judges 3:1-2)


    For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: “IN RETURNING AND REST YOU SHALL BE SAVED; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not, And you said, “No, for we will flee on horses”— Therefore you shall flee! And, “We will ride on swift horses”— Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift! One thousand shall flee at the threat of one, At the threat of five you shall flee, Till you are left as a pole on top of a mountain And as a banner on a hill. Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
    (Isa 30:15-18)

  19. I want to relate an anecdote. I think it will dovetail nicely with your post.
    I’m letter carrier for the United States Postal Service. I’m a Christian as well, one who seeks to walk humbly with my God.

    I was parked in a business parking lot on my route and was about ready to proceed to my next stop. A woman came out of the building, carrying a box that was full of records. She was bent backwards a bit by the effort. The Lord prompted me to help her. I slid the truck door open and called out, “May I help you with that?” She looked nonplussed.

    She laughed and said you open the back of my SUV for me. I jumped down and followed her to her vehicle and using her key-less remote, she unlocked the rear door and I raised it for her. She said “Thanks . . . I guess chivalry’s not dead.” I smiled and said, “Not quite.” She thanked me and I went back to my truck.

    I sat down, only to be prompted once more to go speak to the woman. By the time I had arrived at her vehicle window, I noticed she was eating Chinese food from a Styrofoam container. She looked curiously at me from inside the car and rolled down the window. I smiled a little apologetically and said, “I feel impressed in my heart to tell you, that all of that happened just now, because God wanted to remind you, that He loves you.”

    She blinked a couple of times and hung her head. She nodded quietly and then spoke. “I’ve been sitting here for over two hours, trying to eat this lunch. My husband is terminal and just a few months ago we lost our daughter right over there, on I-25. I’ve been wondering how to go on today.”

    I shrugged the most helpless shrug I’ve ever shrugged and with tears streaming down my face I shook my head and said, “I don’t know what to say. I’m so sorry.” We continued looking at one another for a few moments in hopeless grief.

    She said through her tears, “I was just thinking what really nice people there are here.” I shook my head and said, “That wasn’t me, that was the Lord. He loves you.” She cried softly, “I know.” I told her I had to go and she said that she also had to leave.

    Back in the truck, engine running and about to exit the parking lot, I feel another prompting. I pull my vehicle forward. It dwarfs her SUV. I look down at her, sitting behind the wheel, and I point to myself in pantomime while mouthing the words “I … WILL … PRAY … FOR … YOU, with all the earnestness my heart could put upon my face, and then I smiled. We waved goodbye, and I have never seen her since.

    The Lord has been faithful to remind me of my promise to her, each day when I pull into that parking lot. It feels like hallowed ground somehow. Some other things have been happening involving other people’s pain, being shared in that same spot. The place is becoming a mecca in my mind. My daily pilgrimage to that parking lot and from there into the throne room of the Lord to make known my requests. I wept with gratitude for the privilege of sharing that message with that woman. I’m am different for that experience, more open to being used in whatever way God would choose. I want to be flexible, available for His use. Like we all do, I guess. Anyway, I just wanted to chime in. I ended up on this page because I was looking for something entirely different but yours was the first hit. Ironic, eh?

  20. Nicole, from meditating on that passage more, and your beautifully written post, I think we should start saying, “God will not give you more than HE can handle.” Deeply troubling and comforting at the same time :)

  21. Okay – I know I’m late to the party, but I LOVE this post. I sat there reading it, going ‘yes yes!’ It really bugs me when we as Christians come out with these easy platitudes without listening hard to the Bible and hard to where others are at. I think you described it so well.

    i blog on suffering, the Bible and the messy edges of life, and I am intentionally trying to work through some of these important issues. It’s great to ‘meet’ you. Do you do guest posts? (either guests on your site or guest posting for others)

    I am a truth-seeking, no BS, Jesus-loving sorta gal. Glad to have found another one on the interweb.
    Blessings! t x

  22. i am so glad that you wrote this! I Was starting to believe that i had been forsaken and that he had to have left me, because what I am going through is more than I can handle, that everything I believed was a lie or I must have blasphemed some how. It hard to say why this comforts me so much and why this is so important to know.. But thanks for writing it.

  23. Very ,well put, the fact that we should cling to God for dear life, really without him we’re nothing, totally, nothing.As humans i have observed we only want what is best, so does God. Our main problem however is that we cherry pick. All that God allows to come our way is meant to make us stronger.

  24. For the last three years I have been going through a season of overwhelming and debilitating medical issues. I have often wanted to clutch at this “promise” in desperation. At one particularly low point, not long ago, I came to understand it this way: God will always provide a way out of my complete despair. It will not be unto death (spiritual death). The temptation for me has been to completely despair and fear that God is not taking care of me, which lead to terrible existential darkness. So, I have come to understand it as, horrible and terrible things MAY come in my life…things that may completely overwhelm me…but He does not abandon me, even if I despair. He will make a way out for me. Makes me think of the verses that say a bruised reed he will not crush, a smoldering wick he will not extinguish.

    Also, I think as you were speaking of, God DOES allow things in our lives that we can’t handle, possibly to teach us how to depend on Him and His strength rather than our own. I think it’s very hard for us to not live on our own strength until something comes along and pushes us past our capacity. We then reach out for God.

  25. There’s not much I can add to this comment thread, but I have to say that some of the comments are as good as the article! I liked the openness of the commenters and the way Nicole (the author) responded their observations. It was like being in a close-knit small group Bible study!

    BTW, I think that throwing out platitudes like “God won’t give you more than you can handle” when someone is suffering, seems to belittle their pain. Sometimes all you can do is cry with them – not offer clichés.

  26. I was always taught that but i thought it was physical pain. I lost my mom to suicide when i was 12. I lost both my brothers one to suicide and the other to alcohol. I really thought that was enough. But a few days ago i lost my daughter to suicide. Now i feel like I am at fault. Because people are killing them selves all around me. its in my genes. It is very hard very hard to bear this But i still love god and believe some day I will be happy again. For now i grieve for my daughter and ask why.

    1. Carol, I don’t even know you but my heart is breaking over your losses. We lost a nephew by suicide but that is only one. Your pain must be so deep! God, by His Holy Spirit, is the only One who can carry you through this sorrow.

  27. Thanks for the post. I’m a pastor and I’m constantly telling people that this statement isn’t true. I believe the biblical response is that God never gives us anything He can’t handle. But we get stuff thrown at us all the time that we can’t handle – and some of these things end in death.

  28. GREAT Post on this and using the Bible to teach how even such a small little tweak here or there, could make a huge difference. Temptations won’t be more than we can handle, but our circumstances sure will be, otherwise why would we need Jesus in the first place? Love it! Thanks for writing this!

  29. Hi! I just stumbled upon your blog and I love it! Its funny, I just used this phrase with my roommate this morning, and you totally changed my perspective on it! It truly is amazing how something that can seem so “difficult” really is a more extravagantly joyful life than anyone could ever imagine!

  30. Be careful sister,

    You are reading into this verse.

    Leave it as it is. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t handle suffering as well as other people, pagan or Christian.

    This verse you are straining is about temptation, and for many suffering and lack of faith is that very temptation.

    You should look at this verse in content of Christ’s suffering on both the Christ and in the wilderness. Suffering is never divorced from temptation.

    Numbers 6:24

    1. Tony,
      We will have to agree to disagree on this one. Suffering is not a temptation–it is suffering. Suffering might accompany temptation, but they are not synonymous. Even still, if you view this verse in light of Jesus own temptation, then it should be made even clearer that God will in fact, give us more than we are able to handle.

      I feel a bit confused, because that is what this post is addressing–our suffering in light of Jesus’ own suffering, which was more than He could humanly handle.

      Thanks for the comment, however.

  31. i hope he certainly could find me a good woman that i can share my life with, instead of being alone by myself all the time.

  32. Though someone else might have mentioned this (I’ll admit I didn’t read all of the comments), but the entire premise is based on translation. Corinthians was originally written in Greek by Paul, the word “tempted” is a translation, but the original Greek word also means “tested”. Some Bibles use the word “tested” and many other note this translation choice. I of course do not intend to say your understanding is wrong, and any successful way to cope is beneficial, just want to point out that the saying is more than cliché, that there is contextual Christian background, and many times people find solace knowing that God would not “test” us with one we can’t handle.

  33. Great article!! I never thought of it in that kind of detail, and your right. It specifically says temptation. I have heard it my whole life that God will not give us more than we can handle.

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