Misunderstood: “He will never give me more than I can handle”

It’s amazing that we serve a God that is capable to taking care of all our needs. He is our provider, healer, comfort, and strength. We can trust that is He is a sovereign God that holds our lives in His hands. There is nothing that He does not know about. There is nothing that He cannot do.

Although we believe these things, it’s hard to understand when things go bad. If we serve a God that is control of all things, why are there unexplainable hardships that seem to come our way? Let’s be honest, you’re going to be hard pressed to find a believer that has had no struggles. If you find that person then tell them to write a book. They are going to make millions selling their secrets.

With all this said, we often take comfort in believing that God will never give us more than we can handle. It’s a thought that brings comfort to us in the midst of hardship. It’s a thought that is often preached and declared to those facing struggles of many varieties.

However, I would ask us to challenge this train of thought. I ask us to challenge it because I’m not sure exactly where this statement has come from. “He will never give me more than I can handle” is not found anywhere in Scripture. My best guess as to where this idea came from would be 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.”

This is a verse that we definitely should celebrate and embrace. Paul is making it clear that God will never leave while we are being tempted by sin. There will always be an alternative to sinning. Also, it must also be understood that God will never tempt you to sin. James 1:13 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ’God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone”. God is not in the business of entrapment. He will not tempt us to sin nor will He leave us to deal with temptation ourselves. There will always be an alternative.

So lets now consider hardships and struggles that go beyond sin. Obviously, there are going to be trials and tribulations that do not directly involve our sin or the sin of others. Are we still left in a position that says, “He will never give me more than I can handle”? I ask this question because this statement is often used to bring comfort. I ask this question because this statement is not found in scripture. I ask this question because I dare to say that maybe God will ALWAYS give you more than YOU can handle.

There are two reasons why I believe God will always give you more than YOU can handle:

1. A reminder

Lets think about this logically. If there were never circumstances that brought us to our knees in absolute dependence on Him, then why would we need God. As I said before, He is our provider, healer, comfort, and strength. This all true, however, He is also God of all things, ruler over us, master in charge of us, and superior in every way. He is a jealous God that does not like being put on the back burner. Lets be honest with ourselves about this. The back burner is exactly where God ends up when we are able to “handle” everything. Our nature is to want to control and handle everything. When things are good we have a tendency to rely on ourselves and not Him. So, wouldn’t it make sense that God would allow things to happen to cause us of trust in Him?

The apostle Paul knew what it was like to face hardship. He knew what it was like to be brought to a breaking point. The man endured so many physical, spiritual, and mental attacks and struggle. However, in 2 Cor 1:8-9 he says “For we do not want you to be ignorant, 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. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. Paul understood that even those struggles were a reminder of who God was in His life.

Now some people see this as strange. They ask the question, “Why would God allow me to suffer”. So often this causes people to begin to doubt their faith in a loving God. However, knowing our human nature, I believe that these hardships are Gods love in action.

If there were not constant reminders of how weak and helpless we are, we might stop trusting in Him. If we stop trusting in Him, we begin to jeopardize our very souls. I see it as a blessing, at times, that God allows to me to have more than I can handle. It keeps me on my knees and humbled before my sovereign King.

2. Growth

For those that have gone through hardships, and yet remained faithful, you know what a growth experience pain can become. During the turmoil it was hard to understand why it was happening. However, on the other side of the struggle, you understood what God was doing. One of the amazing aspects of our God is how He takes the worst circumstances and brings meaning and beauty. It’s something that I still cannot fully wrap my mind around. I have seen Him do it over and over again and still cannot comprehend His grace in this manner. It brings a hope and a peace into every situation. Maybe, just maybe, these hardships are God preparing us for something greater than we know.

I hope that you understand one thing. Understand that God will give you more than YOU can handle. However, He will never give you more than HE can handle. Neither one of those statements are found in Scripture, but I think you’ll have an easier time defending the latter. I don’t think that any of the great patriarchs would be willing to embrace the former. I don’t think that Jesus, as He was being beaten, tortured, and murdered was thinking, “Its ok, God won’t give me more than I can handle. I can handle this myself”. Jesus the man had to be at the point of breaking. In fact, Jesus cried out to God the Father to change His mind. In John 22:42 he said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me”. However, he understood that dying was necessary and later declared, “not my will but yours be done”. Then in John 22:43 its says, “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthen him.” Jesus was not left alone and it was not more than God the Father could handle. However, it had to be endured because there was something greater in store.

My motivation behind challenging this “more than you can handle” idea is two fold. One, I want us to always be able to see God working even in the toughest of challenges. If He is faithful in good times, He will be faithful in the bad times. Two, I see this “more than you can handle” idea producing a dangerous doctrine. It’s a doctrine that causes us to see every hardship as either an attack of the enemy or as punishment from God.

We live in a fallen and sinful world. There are going to be hardships that come, not because we are attacked or punished, but because its part of where we live. It’s the Holy Spirits job to help us discern the reasons behind our struggles. If it’s a spiritual attack, He will expose the enemy. If it’s related to sin, He will bring conviction and restoration. If its just part of life, then I will look for what my God is teaching me.

So, lets not take comfort in believing that God will not give me more than I can handle. When it’s more than I can handle, I’m forced to trust Him. Instead let’s take comfort and believe that God will not give me more than He can handle. He is in control and sovereign over all!

This series, Misunderstood, will address many different topics. We will look at misunderstood scriptures, misunderstood doctrine, and misunderstood beliefs.

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About Justin Adour

I am a follower of Christ, a husband, a father, a chaplain, and teacher. As I delve into the richness and depths of the Gospel, each of these roles provides a new perspective into the grace of God. As I attempt to faithfully live out and think through the implications of Gospel, I ask you to journey with me. The depths of this grace will never fully be known, but the pursuit is life giving.
This entry was posted in Faith, Ministry, Misunderstood, Series. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Misunderstood: “He will never give me more than I can handle”

  1. Lorena says:

    Christianity, following our Lord is a task for those who realize that without Him it’s an impossible walk. I have understood through my struggles in life that the walk requires selflessness, humility,sacrifice, discomfort, pain and most definitively suffering. While in the valley I’ve heard – God would not want for you to be unhappy, to suffer, nevertheless, I have come to realize through reading His word, that all those who have run the race suffered immensely by our world standards. I have come to understand that His thoughts and ways are higher than mine and my finite mind will never grasp his infinite ways. I’m ok with that.

  2. Vicki Arnold says:

    “It’s a doctrine that causes us to see every hardship as either an attack of the enemy or as punishment from God.”

    Yes, and with that perspective, it can cause one to misjudge someone. I’ve seen people who think that because someone is going through a hard time or struggling with something, they must have a hidden sin.

    So many points to this that I wanted to comment on, but I’ll just sum it up with a hearty “AMEN!” 🙂

  3. Brandon says:

    Love this article….re-reading it today to pose this question to my students in my Bible class at school!

  4. Sophia says:

    I read this post 5 instances! Best post of 2014

    • Justin Adour says:

      Sophia, I am just seeing this comment! I am so sorry I missed it! I am grateful that it’s been so useful for you!

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