Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

I recently had someone ask me as a pastor, "Is it true that 'God doesn't give us more than we can handle'? Because right now it sure feels like He has."

It is an interesting question.

Does God give us more than we can handle?

Here was my response:

Biblically God often gives us more than we can handle. If we could handle it on our own, then we wouldn't need God.

The psalmists often experienced times when God seemed distant and uninterested.

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak. O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled, but You, O Lord—How long? …I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim. I drench my couch with tears. (Psalm 6:2-3, 6)

Job, of course, experienced the worst of trials that a person could experience–losing all his possessions, all his children, and even his physical health in a matter of days. Soon he despaired of his very life.

Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb? …Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in? For my sighing comes before I eat, and my groanings pour out like water. For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes. (Job 3:11, 23-26)

Paul also struggled with a thorn in the flesh that he begged God to remove.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

If you told these people that "God doesn't give us more than we can handle," then they would have begged to differ. These things all felt like they were much more than they could handle. They had to seek supernatural strength and peace just to make it through the day. And the process felt like a type of dying. This is how Paul describes it.

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. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9a)

Paul experienced a burden that was more than he could handle. It was beyond his strength. It was so heavy that Paul felt like he had been given a death sentence. But here is what he learned as he went through this difficulty…

But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9b)

So instead of saying that God doesn't give us more than we can handle, a better statement would be…

God gives us more than we can handle so that His hand is all that we can hold onto.

I wish I could say that things will get better quickly or that the pain will go away or that the process will be easy. But I can't. All I can say is that God will not abandon You and He will give you the strength to make it through…day by day…step by step…and that at the end of His refinement process the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7).

That is the hope that we have in Jesus Christ…the One who loves us, the One who died for us, the One who rose again, and the One is coming back to wipe away every tear.

I will pray for you as you walk this journey. 

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2 Responses to Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

  1. John says:

    Can't tell you how many times I hear Christians missapply this verse thinking it says tribulation when it says temptation.  Amazing how we can make scripture say what we want it to say.  Thanks for your very clear perspective–I have friends who need to read this.

    1 Co 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. NKJV

  2. admin says:

    Thanks, John. You are right, 1 Corinthians 10:13 is often used as the basis for “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” But the context of 1 Cor. 10:13 is that we do not have to give in to sin in the midst of our difficulties. Israel was in the wilderness and they gave in to idolatry, sexual immorality, and murmuring. We don’t have to do the same…and we can’t blame our sin on our difficult circumstances since God always makes a way for us to walk with Him even through the wilderness.

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