Is it true God never gives us more than we can handle?

Letters and Thoughts

If God doesn’t give us more than we can handle why does it feel like it sometimes?

Dear Friend,

I don’t mean to be harsh but few statements make me cringe then this one that seems to have woven itself so deeply in Christian belief that it is accepted as Gospel truth. It seems like wherever one turns some form of this message seems to have taken hold as it is uttered again and again. Yet there is no place in Scriptures where we can find an instance of God or Christ telling us that, in this life, we will never be given more than we can handle.

It’s actually usually the exact opposite. We are often, in our journeys through this life, given much more than we can handle. If we were never given more than we can handle there would never have been a need for Christ Jesus to come in the form of man to live the perfect life, to die the perfect death, and to conqueror sin, death and the Devil. This is an active and present sacrifice that acknowledges our sins are always a burden we cannot bear. If we were never given more than we can handle then the Apostle Paul would never have needed to pray not once, but three times, that the thorn from his side be removed. (2 Corinthians 12:1-10) David would never have fled to the caves to escape the reach of Saul, Moses would have never needed Aaron, and countless prophets, apostles and saints would never have cried out to the Lord in their hour of need.

Though our trials and our struggles do not come from God they do come and their weight can seem unbearable to us as the Devil heaps upon our backs enough that would and should shatter us. These often seem like they are more than we can handle because, honestly they are more than we can handle. If the Devil himself was constrained to only that which we can handle, only what we can bear, we ourselves would have defeated him with no need for God’s divine love or help.

God promises us something entirely different. What He promises is that though we will often times have more than we can handle, His grace will be sufficient for us. It is a blessed assurance that, through His love and in His mercy, we can find strength and peace regardless of the situation we may be in. (Philippians 4:12-13) Within these words we are reminded then that though we may be tempted the measure of our resistance lies not in our own power to withstand, but in the power of the Holy Spirit guiding us through it and from it.

The problem with the idea that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle is essentially two fold. It first implies that God is somehow testing us, that He somehow tries us through burdens and troubles. As James reminds us, this is not how God works. (James 1:13-14) If God did, He would forever find us wanting because none of us, when faced with life itself, can stand against the perfect measure of His righteousness. (Romans 3:9-20) The second implies that there is some power that we have and that we must rely on our own strength to make it through. Again, this is not the case. Scriptures do not stop after saying, “In all these things we are more than conquerors”. No, Paul goes on to remind us, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

Perhaps we believe that we are giving God the proper reverence when we say that He doesn’t give us more than we can handle. The truth is we are remolding Him, reframing Him not as our strength and our provider but as our sidekick through our travels, as a watcher whose active place is greatly diminished. Why, after all, should we come to Him with our problems, why should we leave our yoke upon the feet of His throne, why seek from Him the answers and the wisdom that we need if we can handle it? We don’t need Him, nor do we need Christ, for even our sins themselves we can deal with in our own way and our own time.

So yes, it perhaps feels as if you have been given more than you can handle dear friend. That is because you have been. The Devil and the world will seek to break you, and they cannot do that if all you are ever given is what you can handle. Yet rejoice, even in your hardship, for in that truth comes a blessed and wondrous truth. He will not fail you nor will He forsake you in your current condition and in your current struggles. He will march beside you in love, hope and mercy as He guides you, carrying you even, through the times of deepest trouble and greatest struggle. What’s more is you have the opportunity to more fully rely on your God, to learn from Him, to be strengthened by Him, to be emboldened by Him as He proves to you that His grace is sufficient for you.

Remember, dear friend, we are only truly strong when we are weak because, in our weakness, God can work more completely through us and in us. In those moments we finally set aside our pretenses and our vanity, and we give it over to Him, realizing the only way we will truly make it through is through Him. It may be hard for us to let go like that but once we do we find a freedom in the Spirit that is beyond compare.

I hope this helps. All the best in your journey through this world. May you find the answers you are looking for through it.

Cordially yours,

WJTM

SDG

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