Have you ever heard the “Bible verse” God will never give you more than you can handle? It’s amazing to me in my years of ministry how often someone quotes this “verse” in regards to their situation (they’ve been taught this), then looks at me perplexed with beat up, broken down, “way more than they can handle” eyes. Now God must be a liar or they are more screwed up than they originally thought…
Not knowing what the Bible says and doesn’t say will really end up biting us. Bible teachers who teach people God will never give them more than they can handle are not only teaching an unbiblical message, they are setting people up for disaster.
The truth is, this phrase is simply not in the Bible. Whether it’s deliberate or accidental confusion, the end result is the same. The false teaching springs from 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. Basically when we sin, we can’t say God made us do it and when we are tempted we can be encouraged that He always provides a way out. Temptation to sin is waaay different than the hard things in life that are more than we can handle.
I suffer from depression, and it’s more than I can handle.
I started a church, and it’s been waaay more than I can handle.
Parenting two young children is often more than I can handle! (Especially when my wife is gone for the day!)
Talk to someone struggling with suicide about if they’ve been given more than they can handle.
Talk to someone who was just diagnosed with cancer if they’ve been given more than they can handle.
Ask a parent who is at their own child’s funeral if they’ve been given more than they can handle.
Yet none of these situations are sins, or even necessarily a result of a person’s sin.
They are simply life in this broken world. A world Jesus describes in John 16:33b…In this world you will have trouble.
The irony of this is that the first step of our salvation is admitting to God that we’ve been given more than we can handle! Our faith begins by admitting to God: “I am a sinner who cannot save myself. My sins are more than I can handle. My broken state is more than I can handle. Please rescue me, Jesus!”
You ever try to get a prideful person to go to counseling? It could be someone struggling with depression, struggling in their marriage or just downright struggling. A prideful person will never go to counseling, why? Because in their mind they can handle it.
They don’t need help.
They don’t need to admit their weakness.
Do these sound like godly or admirable qualities? Of course not.
James 4:6 tells us “God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
1 Corinthians 12:9 says, 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.
These are very different messages than trying to think you can handle everything yourself. We aren’t built to walk this path alone. It’s why God gave us other Christians! It’s why He gave us the Church! It’s why he gave us his Son and his Spirit!
Our world is a world full of death. In this overwhelming world, we will often be given way more than we can handle. Don’t let this cause you to give up on God or wonder if He’s turned his back on you, allow it rush you toward God’s strength, sufficiency, truth, love and presence. Allow your weakness to make plenty of room for God’s strength.
A strong person who can save themselves doesn’t need a strong God who longs to love and rescue his children.
A weak person does.
Celebrate God’s strength.
Oh yeah, the rest of John 16:33 reads: (Jesus speaking) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”