I can’t tell you how many times I have heard it. Anytime a hard situation arises in someone’s life a friend will say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” or “God knows what you can handle, and He won’t give you more than that.” This is a common saying in Christian circles, but did you know that it’s not really in the Bible? I want to share with you why God just might give you more than you can handle.
Not only is this saying not Biblical, but our real life can’t live up to it. Sometimes your kid may die of cancer, you may go bankrupt, or you may lose all your possessions.
It is just a nice feel good saying that people like to say to make themselves or their friend feel better. This is just one example of misquoted scripture that we will look at to day, but there are numerous others that fall into this same boat.
Where does it come from?
This saying is actually derived from a scripture in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians,
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. – 1 Corinthians 10:13
We can see that nowhere in this scripture does Paul say that you will not receive hardships or difficulties beyond what you can bear, or think you can bear.
Paul is actually referring to being tempted here. If we look back at the verses before this, and take the verse in context, he is actually teaching the Corinthians about what happened in the Old Testament being examples for us (v 10:6) today. The examples from the Old Testament dealt with idolatry (v 7), sexual immorality (v 8), testing God (v 9), and complaining (v 10).
Paul is actually saying that the temptations to do these things are common to man (10:13).
- We are all tempted to make idols in our lives. While they dealt with the actual production of silver, gold, and bronze idols of false gods, common idols today include job titles, money, community status, the car you drive, Facebook (ouch), even food.
- Sexual immorality is very common, especially within our Western culture. The temptation to have premarital sex, an affair, or to watch pornography is very rampant in America where sex sells.
- We all at some point in our lives have “tested God,” whether that is through an ultimatum or an “ok God prove yourself by doing x, y, or z scenario.”
- Finally, complaining: how many times have we complained about our situation, our circumstance, our lack of finances, how “horrible” our life is at times. (I am not disregarding the fact that some situations are in fact horrible, but let’s be honest, the majority of us actually live quite decent lives here in America.)
Everyone will deal with the temptation to do these things, because they are common to man however, He will also provide a way out. Again, we see nowhere does he say that you will not face hardships or difficulties.
We actually will face some hardships
Recently we discussed how Jesus is Not Cool, especially when we start going over this part of the Gospel.
Hardships will come. Times will be tough. Paul tells us in his next letter to the Corinthians,
Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. – 2 Corinthians 11:23-27
Do you not think that these situations were more than Paul could bear at times? He endured all of these things he listed out. That seems to be more than any one person could ever endure. He even tells us himself,
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
Times were so tough that Paul was burdened beyond his own strength, to the point that he wanted to die!
Or should we also look at the life of Job. Everything he had was taken from him, killed, or destroyed. Even his own body was covered in boils. Now how unbearable would that be: your family: gone; your money: gone; your belongings: gone, your own health: gone, even your friends telling you to curse God and die.
Or Peter, when Christ predicts his denial. Christ says,
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; – Luke 22:31
Jesus knew that Peter was going to face some crap.
But there is hope
Paul instructs us in Romans,
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – Romans 5:3-5
And James tells us in his epistle,
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4
And again in verse 12,
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
These are all assurances that some times in life the crap is going to hit the fan. Bad things will happen, and hardships will come. But, at the end of the day it will be all right. It doesn’t mean that God is mad at you, or he hates you.
…for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. – Matt. 5:45
Sometimes in life, “God just might give you more than you can handle,” but that doesn’t mean God is the one actually giving it to you. Remember we operate under the world’s system. The truth is Some times God answers prayers, and not others. Don’t use it as an excuse to blame Him or get mad at him for the hardships, rather use it as a reason to lean into Him all the more, and to live by Christ who lives inside of you.