The popular answer is ‘No.’ We’ve all been told this, or maybe even said it. A friend reveals she is going through some really difficult life circumstances, and inevitably someone pipes in with, “Well, God won’t give you more than you can handle.” This response is totally understandable, but also totally inaccurate.
When we’re faced with someone else’s difficulties, we just don’t know what to say. We can say we’re so sorry they’re having to deal with it, but that never seems like enough. We want to provide some hope in the situation. Unfortunately, the hope provided by saying this idea is misdirected. It encourages us to put our hope in ourselves. It forces us to work harder and harder to push through on our own because we think God thinks we can handle it.
I don’t know about you, but if the only hope I have is in myself, I am DOOMED. Completely and utterly hosed.
You may be thinking, “Yeah, but what about that verse that says that?” The only verse that I know of that sounds anything like that is 1 Corinthians 10:13. You know, the one that our youth leaders had us memorize when we were lusty teenagers.
It says, “No temptationhas overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful;V)’> But when you are tempted,he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
If you’ll notice, this verse is talking about temptation, not trials or hard times. It says that the Lord will provide an escape to enable us to avoid sin, not an escape from our circumstances.
So what is the truth, then? The truth is that God does give us more than we can handle. He does that so that we will rely on Him and allow Him to handle things. Sometimes He gives us circumstances so incredibly difficult that we have no choice but to turn to Him. It’s what we are supposed to be doing all along, but many times don’t.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells us just that. “For P)’>affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; deed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (emphasis mine)
If you’re anything like me and struggle with self-reliance, sometimes it takes absolutely overwhelming circumstances to remind you that you’re not as big and bad as you thought. That you can’t make it in your own strength and that frankly, you weren’t created to. That, as my counselor reminded me of last year, “Jessica, you cannot do everything. You are not God. He is.”
Initially this might make you feel like God is some manipulative control-freak. Yeah, I just said that. Rest assured – He’s not. He does it out of love. He gives us difficult times to direct us back to Him – to keep us close. He knows that the only way we can truly experience peace is by His side, relying on Him. It’s when we keep our eyes on Him and give Him our fears and worries that we experience peace, even in the worst of circumstances. (Isaiah 26:3, I Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:6-7)
Over the last two years of trials and rough circumstances, I have been told numerous times, “Well, you must be pretty tough because God won’t give you more than you can handle.” My response is, “No. I’m just stubborn.”