By Pastor Stuart Weist
First Baptist Church of Preston
Often, I will hear people try to encourage one another by saying, “Remember that God will not give you more than you can handle.” This is supposed to encourage someone but, it often makes them feel worse because they now feel inadequate for not being able to handle more. Consider for a moment this phrase said to someone who has just received a terminal diagnosis, or to the family who is mourning the loss of a loved one, or to the marriage which is being torn apart through abuse and anger. Is it really God’s plan that He give us these trials because we can handle them? NO.
In fact, the above phrase is not only discouraging it is also unbiblical. Nowhere in scripture does God say that He will not give us too much, rather we see examples thought Scripture of just the opposite. The Apostles (apart from John) died a martyr’s death, Adam and Eve were cursed with death, Christ Himself was crushed by the wrath of God. So certainly, examples abound of God giving more than we can handle. So where does this phrase come from?
It is a misquote from 1 Corinthians 10:13 where Paul writes, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Paul here was not talking about trials but about temptations. When we are tempted to sin (like steal fresh baked cookies) God is the one that provides a means for escape. He gives us the ability to overcome the temptation and to turn from our sinful desires. But this is not the same as enduring trials in life.
In fact, in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth he finds himself enduring his own trial which he is constantly in prayer for the Lord to remove. Yet as he is overwhelmed in trials, he remembers the words of Christ saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Leading him to the conclusion that he would “rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor 12:9) You see it is not about our ability to overcome trials in life, it is about God’s ability to overcome all things. When we maintain a heavenly perspective then our entire life becomes about Christ. Our speech, character, and joy all reflect Him as our savior. We see our suffering in this world as only temporary as we await our eternal home in glory. This is the true encouragement for an individual who is overwhelmed. This is the true hope for those suffering in trials. It’s not that God will not give you more than you can handle. But can you handle it without God?