Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?
It is a question I hear frequently- does God give us more than we can handle?
Many answer this question with an emphatic no. They use 1 Corinthians 10:13 as proof~
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (NIV- emphasis mine)
Those who say this are trying to be encouraging. Hang in there! Remember, God won’t give you more than you can handle!
But is this really true? Is that really what this verse is saying? ***
It might seem encouraging, but what happens when someone feels overwhelmed by life? If they believe that God doesn’t give more than they can handle, what does this say about God? Is he then a liar?
My answer to the does God give us more than we can handle question is ABSOLUTELY!
God gives us more than we can handle, because we are never meant to handle it all on our own. The better question is does God give us more than HE can handle? And the answer to that is absolutely not!
Life is difficult and it is hard. But God never promised us that it would be wonderful and perfect. He told us that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Our hope is meant to be found in him and what he is able to accomplish. If our hope is based on our circumstances and chance, we are to be most pitied. Because quite frankly, life does not always go the way we planned. And it is not always perfect. In fact, sometimes it is downright abysmal.
If we believe that God won’t give us more than we can handle, when we are overwhelmed by the difficulties of life, we will be tempted to give up on our faith. But when we believe that God won’t give us more than HE can handle, our faith in him deepens and grows through difficulty.
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 that you may be perfect and complete, not lacking in anything. ~James 1:3,4
There is no testing of your faith if you can handle everything that life throws at you. The very nature of a test of faith is a stretching beyond yourself. Faith in God means that you trust Him to work in your life and you trust His will for you. It is a relinquishing of your own control and allowing him to lead and guide.
So often, I see people get angry at God, because he doesn’t do what they want him to do. I thought you said you wouldn’t give me more than I could handle! they yell while shaking their fists at God. But he never said that! And who are we to sit in judgment on the one who created us? When did we become the judge and jury of the Almighty God, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End? Who are we to judge the Perfecter of our faith?
This past year, my Daddy passed away, but several years prior to his passing, we were losing him to Alzheimers. It was a tough road to walk down. There were times when we had to laugh, but it really wasn’t funny. If I had believed that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, I would not have been able to walk that road without kicking and screaming and lashing out at others. There was nothing fair about it. However, walking that road with a trust in a God who works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), knowing that I had hope in the midst of the grieving (1 Thessalonians 4:13), and believing that even if I am called to walk through the valleys of the shadow of death, my God is with me (Psalm 23:4), there was peace- the kind that goes beyond all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
I don’t want to offer encouragement to others that might sound good in the moment. I want to offer truth, because that is what MY heart so desperately needs.
One of my favorite stories in scripture is the story of David and Goliath (which can be found in its entirety here). The nation of Israel was confronted with a problem that they were incapable of handling on their own. A giant man was defying them and challenging them to fight. But they knew that in their own strength, they could do nothing. And then, little David comes along. He sees the same problem, a Goliath-sized problem, but he doesn’t look at it the same way. Instead of hiding from the threat, he meets the ridicule with this excellent statement-
You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. ~1 Samuel 17:45
David looked at the problem, but didn’t keep his eyes there. He looked beyond it and saw God and his power which he knew to be greater than any problem he faced.
Sometimes God deliberately gives us more than we can handle so that we will learn to rely on him and so that we will acknowledge our desperate need for him. And then when he overcomes our difficulty, we are not tempted to say look at me. All we can say is, look at our God!
***So what is 1 Corinthians 10:13 really talking about? It is not talking about trials and difficulties; it is talking about temptations. It says elsewhere in scripture that God does not tempt us- “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me”. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” ~James 1:13. Temptation is the result of our sin problem. When it says that we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear, it means that if we choose to trust in God’s power (His Spirit) at work within us, Satan can have no victory in our lives.