“Don’t worry, God will not give you more than you can handle.”
So many times I have heard this said by well-meaning people to help someone get through a difficult time. While I appreciate the desire they may have to build up their friend, like so many statements that people glibly throw out about God, this one is patently untrue. God will give you more than you can handle. And He will. Frequently. Let me illustrate.
The problem with simply saying “God will never give you more than you can handle” is that it is a verse taken out of context. It comes from 1 Corinthians 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.”
As you can plainly see, Paul here is talking quite specifically about temptation. The point he is making is that when you are tempted, God will provide you a way out, should you desire it (ah, there’s the rub – but that’s for another article!). Paul is not talking about trials or difficult times. He is talking about temptation.
Paul would never suggest that God would not give you more than you can handle when it comes to the difficult moments in life. He says the opposite in fact. Consider these words from another letter to those same Corinthians:
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” –2 Corinthians 1:8
Whoa! This doesn’t sound like a man who would claim he can handle whatever trials come his way. He is burdened beyond his strength, even to despairing of life itself. Paul knew suffering. Paul knew trials. But Paul was never foolish enough to think that he could handle them. Instead, Paul famously and frequently cried out to His God and yours in his weakness. He would proudly brag about his utter weakness, because God’s strength was made perfect in his weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul knew he could handle very little on his own:
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” –2 Corinthians 1:9
The answer to a vibrant life in God is to know for certain that you, by yourself, will often receive more from life than you can handle. And the truth is, you cannot handle much. You cannot create your own life, you cannot sustain your own life. Everything we have and are comes to us as pure gift from a loving Father. That includes the ability to cope with hardship. Whatever you’re going through, remember this: “God will give you more than you can handle.” This is to make you not rely on yourself, but on your loving Father.
Therefore, when life gives you more than you can handle, don’t pretend you can handle it. That is a foolish place to be. Instead, turn to God. God is the only One who can handle ALL things, and God loves you and longs to sustain you and grant you His strength, peace, hope, and love. Alone, we are weak, but with God all things are possible.
Together, let us come often to this God who can handle everything that we cannot. Let us come in our weakness, knowing that we can handle very little. Let us come to Him expectantly and learn once again the truth that is proclaimed over and over in the Scriptures: with God, all things are possible.
I’ll see you in Church,