Is it true that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle? It seems like one devastating thing after another has happened to me. If God thinks I can handle all this, He has far more faith in me than I do.
Often when we are in the midst of trial and difficulty, others have tried to reassure us by reminding us that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. It’s meant to encourage us as we struggle through the suffering. Unfortunately, this statement is not found anywhere in the Bible.
A misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10.13 likely provides the motivation for this sentiment. In this verse Paul states that God will not allow anyone to be tempted beyond their ability, but with the temptation, God will also provide a way out, so that those tempted will be able to bear it. Read in context (the way all scripture must be read and interpreted), Paul is speaking about temptations due to lust, sex and worshipping false Gods. Note that Paul is not making a blanket statement about suffering.
I believe God regularly gives us more than we can handle. If all we faced were within our means to deal with, we would have no reason to turn to God. Satan’s temptation for the woman in the Garden of Eden centered on whether God was had been forthright. She believed the lie that God was withholding from her, that there was something more than God that would make her life complete. It is the lie that has separated humankind from God ever since. And it is the lie Satan wants each of us to believe today.
God, in His mercy, has not left us to the consequences of our sinful and erroneous thinking.
He continually pursues us, calling us to Himself with the promise that everything we need can, indeed, be found in Him.
The Role of Suffering
One of the means God uses to draw us to Himself is our suffering. Trials and tribulation are a part of living in a fallen world. No matter how we live or how hard we try, we cannot avoid suffering. God has the amazing ability to use crushing sorrow and debilitating agony to show us that He is enough; that in Him we can find everything we need. It is the reason that some Christians can be joyful in the midst of devastating loss. The loss may not hurt any less, but God provides love, grace, and comfort beyond measure and understanding.
In our sinful, fallen state, human pride attempts to prove that we can handle whatever comes our way; that we, in our own strength and ability, are all we need. Often, it is only when we experience trial and suffering beyond our own ability to handle that we surrender ourselves to God and lean upon Him – just as He has desired all along.
The next time you hear that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, remember the empty, hollow lie Satan told the woman. Remember, too, that God allows us to experience more than we can handle. He does this to give us the chance know His “enoughness.” We can choose to draw near to God in our trials and suffering. When we do, we also have the opportunity to experience His strength, love, grace, mercy and provision. No matter what lie Satan would like us to believe, God is enough. Our trails and suffering allow us to experience Him in ways we could not otherwise imagine.