by Steven Norris
There are a number of cringe-worthy sayings that people throw around as if they are indisputable truth. We are often convinced that the Bible says these things…until we go looking for a specific reference. One such saying goes something like this: “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
“Poppycock!” I say. That is utter non-sense. The problem is that we’ve heard it said so many times that many of us are convinced that it is true. The closest Bible verse that you will be able to find to support this idea is from Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, where he says,
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 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” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).
Paul is saying to this particular church: “Your experience is not unique.” Even though they lived in a pagan culture and were surrounded by temptations on all sides — temptations related to idolatry, sexuality, philosophy, greed, substance abuse, and other forms of divisive behavior — their temptations were the same kinds of temptations that all humans experience.
Despite this, Paul reminds them that they have the Holy Spirit living and working in them — the very same Spirit that had been at work in the person of Jesus Christ, the power of resurrection and new life. For Paul, the presence of the Spirit was the the source of his own ability to stand up under trials. It was his dependence on that Spirit (not his own inherent strength) that gave him victory.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminds them of his “thorn in the flesh.” Paul pleaded with God to take it away from him. In other words, he admitted defeat, that he could not handle this troublesome circumstance. God responded in this way: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul went on to say, “So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
The main point of all of this is that God often gives us more than we can handle on our own. The reason for this is that we were never intended to carry it on our own. God allows these trials, knowing full well that the Spirit will provide the strength needed to endure and to bring victory.
So, the next time that someone tells you that God will not give you more than you handle, you can choose to dispute them. Or, you may just remind yourself of the truth: this situation may actually turn out to be more than I could handle on my own. The Good News is that I am not on my own. Thanks be to God!