Through the past few months of trials and testing of our family I have heard a common phrase repeated by people from many faiths and different walks of life. Every time it is repeated to me it has become more abrasive.
“God will not give you more than you can handle.”
Every time I hear it I feel like a failure because I still hurt. I feel disabled because I am lacking the ability to endure suffering because “God won’t give me more than I can handle.” I am left at the end of the day saying, “I can’t do this.”
Then I got to thinking, is that statement even true. Does God ever say anything like that? The closest I found was:
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Cor. 10:13
That verse is specifically talking about temptation and sin, not trials and not suffering.
My mind wandered through scripture wondering if in fact God won’t give us more than we can handle.
- What about Moses leading millions of escaped slaves out of Egypt then reaching the shores of the Red Sea only to find Pharaoh’s army breathing down their necks?
- What about Noah facing a global catastrophe that would wipe out all living things on earth?
- What about King Jehoshaphat leading Judah into battle with no weapons and only singers?
- What about a boy, too small for armor, challenging a giant with the freedom of his people at stake?
- What about a young, secretly Jewish Queen, having the genocide of her people placed at her feet?
- What about a pregnant, unmarried teenager facing scorn and possible stoning in order to give birth to the Savior of the world?
- What about a band of uneducated, insignificant unknowns being asked to start a global religion?
- What about a blinded, Christian killer called to be the most prolific writer of the New Testament?
I am convinced that not only will God give us more than we can handle, but he does his best work there.
I am also convinced that the propagation of this lie leaves even mature Christians feeling as if we have missed the mark, as if we haven’t made the cut, or we just aren’t good enough. And we are bad. The truth is we aren’t good enough, strong enough or able enough. And that’s OK. The truth is that we can’t face the Red Sea, our giants or the death of our children in our own strength. But there is a God who can and will.
We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 2 Cor. 1:8-10
I have found in recent months, God has pushed me beyond my own ability to endure. There have been days when I thought I would never live through this. But as a result, I have stopped relying on me. I have learned to rely more desperately on God for every step and every breath.
Today, I take great comfort in the words of a mighty King:
But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you! 2 Chron. 20:17
(References: Exodus 14, Genesis 7, 2 Chronicles 20, 1 Samuel 17, Esther 4-7, Luke 1:26-38, Acts 2, Acts 9)