“God won’t give you more than you can handle” is one of those typical sayings that we should file in the nearest trashcan.
Why? Because it’s not true.
If you’ve never been to the place you felt completely overwhelmed, then you haven’t lived very long—or you blissfully go through life oblivious. (If the latter is true, I envy you.)
Trials come. Many times, they arrive bunched together, all at once. Everyone experiences hurts, yucky situations, broken relationships, deaths, and financial tight spots. Everyone has the washing machine break down—on a day when company’s coming and you need clean sheets. Everyone cuts a finger, spills milk, and drops eggs or jelly on a freshly mopped floor. Everyone has car problems. Everyone has friend, family, and neighbor personality clashes. Almost everyone experiences sickness sooner or later. Nobody doesn’t have trials. No one’s immune. Trials are part of life.
I think it’s funny when people share trite sayings and sound bites that might seem right. They may even sound like Scripture–but those sayings aren’t true.
God won’t give you more than you can handle?
Ask the Apostle Paul about that. This is his testimony: Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? (2 Corinthians 11:24-29) Falsely accused, narrowly escaping death, persecuted in churches he founded, personal disappointments, prison time, and the weight of the ministry upon him—the Apostle Paul understood there’s suffering in the will of God.
The Bible is clear: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Christians should expect it. No, we don’t need to fear or do something dumb in order to invite it, but those who live a godly life will see persecution at some time and in some way.
I love Paul’s response to his list of sufferings: If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not (2 Corinthians 30-31). He stated the facts, accepted them, and glorified God in the process.
Will God sometimes allow—not necessarily give—you more than you can handle?
An Old Testament example is Job. God introduces him: my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil (from Job 1:8).
Yet, God allowed him in one day to lose his herds, servants, and all ten of his children. His reaction is perfect: Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly (Job 1:20-22).
Later, Job also lost his health, the support of his wife, and any encouragement his friends might have offered. His loss was overwhelming, so much so that he even wished he’d never been born.
After Job persevered, God blessed him. And, ever since, we speak of the “patience of Job” for his incredible endurance in the face of adversity.
I don’t pretend to understand the Trinity: three Persons—all one God. Remember when Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane? Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:42-44). Even Jesus—God in the flesh—needed Divine help as He faced the cross.
The truth is that sometimes, God allows trials that we can’t handle.
I believe this verse is taken out of context many times, but it is one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible within its context. Paul is talking about persecutions and afflictions that aren’t going away. He’s writing from prison, having suffered hunger, cold, and adversities. His testimony (given by the Holy Spirit): I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13).
Job determined, Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him (Job 13:15a).
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:28-29a). Everything we go through—with the Lord’s help—helps strengthen us in faith and actually works together for our good. Our experiences help us be more conformed into the image of Christ. These hardships build up our faith log: God helped me here and here; He will also help me go through future trials.
After Paul asked God three times to take away his thorn in the flesh, God gave him a clear answer. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Paul’s response? Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9).
God’s grace is sufficient, but we are, at best, weak human beings. My own life verse was chosen back in high school. I thought life was daunting then, but again and again since, the Lord has proved Himself powerful. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
It’s freeing to know that we don’t have to be enough. He is.
We don’t have to handle it. He can.
We can completely rely on our all-powerful, compassionate God, Who can do it for us.
God bless you, today.