I have a confession to make. There is a common saying among Christians that drives me crazy. Let’s call it a Christian pet peeve. It’s a phrase that has been taught all over the world, but it’s not what God says in His Word. If I’m honest, I have to force myself to be quiet when I hear someone say it because I believe this phrase messes with people’s minds more than any other. I know it did for me.
So, what is it? It’s the phrase people say when they are dealing with great hardship. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
After I was diagnosed with my third chronic illness, several well-meaning people told me, “Don’t worry. It will be okay. God obviously knows you can handle this because He won’t give you more than you can deal with.” Admittedly, after the third person said this to me I wanted to scream, “But it is too much! I can’t do this! Living with three chronic illnesses is too much for me to handle!” And that’s the moment God said, “Exactly!”
Let’s look at the saying from a different perspective. God won’t give you more than you can handle. Do you see it? That phrase makes it all about you, what you can do in your strength and capability. Nowhere in God’s Word does it say we’re supposed to tackle this life and its many problems by ourselves. The Bible continually reminds us to go to God. One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 91, which says when we go to God and make Him our refuge and fortress He will deliver us.
So why do people think this phrase is in the Bible? It actually comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, “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.” If you look at the original Greek word used here, temptation can mean two things. The first is a temptation, that area of sin with which one tends to struggle. An example of this is when Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days and nights. Towards the end, Satan came to Jesus and tried to tempt Him to eat. The other thing which temptation refers to are tests, like the everyday aggravations of life. For example, when you need to be somewhere at a specific time and you get stuck behind every slowpoke in the county on your drive. How do you respond? That’s what this verse is talking about.
Interestingly enough, Paul, the author of 1 Corinthians, went on to say in a different letter to the church of Corinth (2 Corinthians), “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life,” (2 Corinthians 1:8).
I know, everyone’s thinking, “Well, this is depressing! I’m going to face problems that are too much for me to handle. Where’s the hope in that?” Paul gives us the answer later in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 where he says:
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
We are going to face more than we can handle in this life. Bodies don’t work the way they’re supposed to; marriages fall apart; jobs are terminated. This world is broken, and if we are looking to ourselves or anyone else to help us handle the problems we encounter, we will fail and fall flat on our faces every time. But there is hope for those who have a relationship with God! He makes His life-giving power available to us. When we cry out to Him and rely on Him when life overwhelms us and becomes too much, God does more than we can imagine (Eph. 3:20-21).
Are you connected to the power source?
“For You light my lamp; The Lord my God illumines my darkness. For by You I can run upon a troop; And by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” ~ Psalm 18:28-30