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Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

An old friend of mine told me this statement again and again, “I know God won’t give me more than I can handle, but I’m about at the end of what I can take.” And he was right, he was at the end of what he could take...And then so much more began to pile on. This friend struggled with chronic pain and had countless surgeries on his arms, wrists, legs, and ankles. He was single and lived alone, relationships never seemed to work for him, and his closest family members either passed away or were all falling apart and didn’t want much to do with him. He was collecting unemployment, but he had a strong work ethic, and it deeply troubled him to not be able to work. Just when he was at the end of his rope, he was diagnosed with leukemia. So, I asked him, “Are you sure God won’t give you more than you can handle?”


This is a question that was asked of the Elders at Restoration Church recently and we wanted to take some time to answer it thoughtfully, respectfully, and biblically. What we believe about even the small things truly matters. This is a question that Christians of varying maturity levels have asked, and if you were to ask each person, they might have a different answer.

What does the Bible say?

The phrase in question often 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.”

Do you see the problem? This passage isn’t talking about struggles or suffering, but it’s about temptation. In fact, the section that this passage comes from is Paul’s warning to the Corinthian church that they shouldn’t participate in the pagan worship practices around them. He was emphasizing that the very things they were tempted with are temptations for all people. And all people who are found in Christ have a way to resist that temptation; the way to resist is through Jesus!

On the other hand, Paul also wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, “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. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.” Paul, a “hero of the faith,” admitted that he was burdened and suffering, “beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” Even Paul suffered more than he felt he could handle. He literally felt like he was dying!

Cultural Influences

But don’t worry! The rest of that verse (2 Cor. 1:9) says, “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” Could it be that the intent of allowing suffering is so that we don’t become self-focused? But instead, we focus on God, who is ultimately more beautiful, powerful, and worthy of our attention and affection. And even better, who is FAR more capable of bearing these burdens than we are.

This biblical perspective runs completely opposite to our culture.

Our culture is very focused on “the self.” We’re constantly blasted with messages about finding our own truth, focusing so intensely on self-improvement and self-love, and though sometimes some of these things are helpful, what often happens is our Heavenly Father gets lost in the noise. His glory (figuratively speaking) drowns in the sea of our praise for ourselves.

Mitch Chase, writing for The Gospel Coalition, says that the phrase in question, “tells me I have what it takes. It tells me I can bear whatever comes my way. It tells me God permits trials according to my ability to endure. Think about what this conventional wisdom does: it points people inward. Yet the Bible points us Godward.” (1)

To be quite honest, we were never made to bear the weight of sin nor the consequences of sin, because sin shouldn’t have been in the picture. Likewise, we weren’t built with the kind of strength that can truly endure suffering and hardship on our own. The cultural influences of our day, though sometimes very well-intentioned, often divert our attention from a strong, loving, and gracious Father, and instead draws attention to our broken and fragile bodies.

What to do, then?

So, the answer to the question is a soft, but self-reflective, yes. God will give you more than you can handle. But he certainly won’t leave you alone in your grief and suffering. We have a Great High Priest and Comforter who sympathizes with our weaknesses. The ONLY one who could bear the sin, shame, and suffering of the whole world on a cross is Jesus. He’s the one we should lean on.

Sharon Betters said it this way, “It’s in those most broken places that we can learn to cry out: ‘We are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. (2 Chron. 20:12)’”

If you’re in the valley, in the dark, or in intense sorrow, grief, and pain, look to Christ. He can take your momentary struggle and make something beautiful out of it.

And if you’re having trouble even still, don’t be discouraged. Feel free to reach out to your church leadership, we want to help! One aim of RGroups is to foster a culture in which we can bear each other’s burdens. So, what’s stopping you from asking your small group for help?

Until the day that Christ comes back to make all things new, let’s take the attitude of the Psalmist: “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:2)

References

1. Mitch Chase, “God will give you more than you can handle,” thegospelcoalition.org, The Gospel Coalition, July 17, 2015, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/god-will-give-you-more-than-you-can-handle/?amp.

2. Sharon Betters, “Does God give us more than we can handle,” Crossway.org, Crossway, July 3, 2021, https://www.crossway.org/articles/does-god-give-us-more-than-we-can-handle/.

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