To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
There is a significant lie that too many of us have believed for far too long and passed on as “truth” for others to believe . Many well-meaning Christians offer this lie in the face of difficulty intending to bring comfort and help to those that are suffering. But it’s a lie.
“God will never give you more than you can handle.”
Really? He won’t? It’s time we call this what it is. It’s a lie. It’s not biblical, and therefore it’s not helpful. You’ve probably said it or have had it said to you, but let’s be honest. How do those words fall on hearts that have just buried their husband or child? How do those words fall on the hearts of those bearing the excruciating pain and darkness of depression? Not well, because it’s not truth. I’ve said it, too, but it’s not what God’s Word teaches, and because it’s a lie, when overwhelming and devastating circumstances befall us, what we think we know about God to be true suddenly comes into question. What we were confident of before, we now doubt. We find ourselves wrestling with questions like, “Is God really good? If God were really in control, why would He allow this to happen? How can I trust a God who would allow something like this?” Do you see where this train of thought begins and where it leads? It never takes us to good places, which is why this lie we have said and believed for so long needs to be confronted now.
The reason I chose John 8:31-32 to open this discussion is to address the importance of knowing God’s Word. When we know what His Word says, we won’t be led down deceiving paths because we will know the truth. In order to “hold to God’s teaching”, we have to know what His teaching is, right? We can’t do that without reading it and studying it. It is the truth of God’s Word that sets us free, not some well-intended Christian platitude that is taken out of context and results in nothing more than sentimental, bumper sticker theology. Let’s become women who know and understand God’s Word, alright?
The lie that “God will never give you more than you can handle” presumably comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “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.” Notice that this verse is about temptation, not tragedy. It’s about temptation to sin, not hardship and trials. God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. Never does He promise that He won’t give you more than you can bear. On the contrary, He promises hardship, trial, and even persecution in this life, and He tells us to expect it. (John 16:33, James 1:2) I believe that the hardships, trials, and storms that we face in this life bring us to a place of desperation like nothing else does or can. It is when we are desperate that we are prone to recognize our need for Jesus. I can’t help but wonder if Jesus prefers us to be in a place of desperation so that we will finally turn to or return to Him. I believe that more times than not He will give us more than we can handle so that our lives can be an avenue through which He is brought much glory because when we can’t do it on our own and yet it somehow works out or we somehow get through it, there can be no doubt in our minds or others that it was supernatural. It was a God-thing.
So, as much as we mean well and as much as we desire to extend words that will comfort the hurting around us, offering a lie is more harmful than it is helpful. This lie has led far too many astray to a place of embitterment against God because of the misfortunes that have fallen on them. You might be currently facing far more than you can handle today. I encourage you to turn to the God who can handle them and more. Resist the temptation to blame God, and turn to Him instead. In your desperation, in your heartache, as your rapidly fraying rope comes to an end, when you cannot fathom one more thing, turn to Jesus. Remain in that place of desperation with your focus on His face and not your circumstances.