Have you ever gone through a trial, and people said to you, “It’s ok. God will not give you more than you can handle.” (And they stop there.) This idea has been on my mind for a couple of days now, but I just couldn’t recollect where the Bible says that. It sounds like it would be in scripture…so I looked…and looked. Not in there. Where do we get this idea that God will not give us more than we can handle?! Sure, it sounds fluffy and pretty, because we know we have a GOOD God. But we also know that His Word is TRUTH, and if it can’t be found in His Word as Truth, then it isn’t. We can’t just make up things about God and believe them to be true just because we want them to be true. That’s not how He works. He’s not a figment of our imagination, formed and molded into who we, as individuals, want Him to be. He IS TRUTH. LOVE. JUSTICE. All these things we know, because His Word promises us this. But does He keep us from troubles? Does He “not give us more than we can bear?”
I believe that people must get this idea from 1 Corinthians 10:13, “And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”
Reading this scripture, one can see how our minds would like to take this Truth and twist it to fit our hopes: That God wouldn’t ever give us more than we can handle/bear at one time. However, as I prayed and studied about this very concept, the Lord brought several things to my attention. It’s funny how God is trying to teach you something, and everything falls into place to show you what He wants you to learn. I just finished reading 1 Corinthians, and began 2 Corinthians. This is God’s humor, because 2 Corinthians has many points that relate to this exact topic. Paul talks about the troubles and hardships that he has faced:
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
“…I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
2 Corinthians 11:23-30
If ANYONE should be exempt from being “given more than they could handle,” it would have been Paul. Yet, even more so, it should have been Jesus. However, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He sweated blood and cried out to the Father to deliver Him from this death if it was His will. But it wasn’t His will. God is a GOOD God, and if Jesus hadn’t been sacrificed on that tree, our sin would not be atoned for, and we would, perhaps, still be trying (unsuccessfully) to obey the law.
But these men were not spared. And God does sometimes give us more than our earthly, human bodies can endure. HOWEVER….
Looking back to 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, the last part says: “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead.”
AND looking back at 2 Corinthians 11:23-30: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
As Paul endured a constant thorn in his flesh, he stated, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:9-10
Paul even stated that throughout all his troubles, his JOY knows no bounds! (2 Cor. 7:4) How many of us can say that we are JOYFUL through our troubles?! Wow. But if we can focus on the BIG PICTURE…
God allows us to go through trials to strengthen us. He uses them so that we realize, once again, our need for Him. He wants us to trust Him for deliverance. He also uses them to call us back to repentance. (See Amos 4:6-11…as well as many of the prophet’s books in the Old Testament.) His discipline is for our good.
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined --and everyone undergoes discipline-- then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:4-11
Soooo…..to answer my original question: Does God ever give us more than we can handle?
Yes, God gives us more than we can handle—APART FROM HIM. Yet with His strength and grace, He gives us the ability to endure and grow!
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body.” 2 Cor. 4:7-11
The underlying principle is this: God cares more about our eternal destiny than He does our earthly comfort! Think about this. Try to wrap your mind around it. We are so self-centered that we automatically try to reject this idea because we just want to have a comfortable, happy life here on earth. But God knows that this brief time on earth is only the beginning. He is preparing us for our eternal glory that will last forever. Our troubles on earth will never cease, as this world is currently in the hands of Satan (the god of this world/age...2 Cor. 4:4)
But the Lord says to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."