Let’s just be honest here, the motif, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle,” isn’t exactly true – or even biblical. The reality is, for all of us (and not just a select few), God does give us more than we can handle. In fact God has given me tons of stuff that I couldn’t / can’t handle in life. And I think there’s more coming.
Is it fair to me that He does this? I don’t think it is; then again, who am I to tell God what’s fair and what isn’t? The truth is, none of us are in such a position to tell God what the meaning of fairness is and how He’s being unjust to us when suffering hits our lives. Again, being honest here.
Some would argue, then, why follow a God who allows His people to suffer and experience hardships in life? To which I answer, why not follow a God like this? How is following someone who allows your life to have fairy tale endings every day, better than following after Someone who is actively engaged with you everyday and throughout every scenario? For me, I’d rather have an authentic relationship vs a superficial one any day.
Christian t-shirts, mugs, posters, songs, and even some sermons have touted this saying for years. When people are in need of comfort, too often this saying is the first words from people. The sentiment is understood; we want to comfort and encourage people. However, more often than not, the person needing to be comforted finds this phrase offensive. The message of “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” implies that God is the one behind all the pain in our life, and that God is vindictively taunting us (“Suck it up, Shawn!“). This, too, is wrong theology, and only causes a person’s anger at God to fuel that much hotter.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13, the apostle Paul informs us that while being tempted, God will always provide a way out for us, and that He won’t allow us to fall, providing we make use of His way out. Over the years, people have taken this to provide evidence that God will not give us more than we can handle. However, this passage is in reference to temptations, and not suffering or trials. And I believe there is a difference here.
Yes, God wants us to have victory over temptations, and He provides all the means to achieve this – barring that we take hold of this help. Sometimes we fail and fall to temptation, and God brings beauty out of the mess. In regards to suffering and trials, though, while I’m sure God wants us to have victory right away, I believe we go through these times for two main purposes: to strengthen our faith and for His ultimate glory. Without these types of journeys, I’m not so sure growth and glory would be achieved. I would also argue that a true sense of God’s presence would also not be experienced without times in our life that were too strenuous to endure.
From Genesis through Revelation, there is a plethora of stories that give evidence to the truth that God does give us more than we can handle. Moses. Joseph. David. The Prophets. Mary and Joseph. The apostles. We even find evidence of this within the life of believers throughout the world, such as martyrs, the underground church, and missionaries.
God is so much more than bumper-sticker-theology, and I believe He wants to offer so much more to all of us who are walking tuff roads.
He is Able
Today, tomorrow, next year, times will come into our lives where the weight of everything will be crushing. Therefore, instead of reciting a bad cliché, let us remember the firm promises God has given, and let us encourage one another (and ourselves) with such truths:
“I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness.”
“He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again.”
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued My faithfulness to you.”
“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.'”
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior … Because you are precious in My eyes, and honored, and I love you …”
Our God is able; He is good, full of grace and mercy. “God is love and God is sovereign. His love disposes Him to desire our everlasting welfare and His sovereignty enables Him to secure it,” says A.W. Tozer. Our Father is for us and not against us. Therefore, while we may endure more than we can handle, nothing is beyond the strength of God. There is nothing we can give Him that He cannot handle; and there is nothing God wants more than for us to trust Him with everything.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”