You may have heard someone say this phrase to comfort someone that is going through a difficult time, “God won’t give you more than you can handle”. Have you ever heard someone say that? Is that true?
I looked through Scripture and couldn’t find a passage or verse to validate this statement. However, I did find a passage that seems to be misunderstood that may have led some to make this statement. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 the verse says, “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” If you read this verse in context, it appears that Paul is writing to let us know that God will always provide a way out when we are tempted by sin. The context has to do with being tempted by sin, not with trials, tribulations, and difficult times. The promise we have in this passage is that God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. There will always be a way out when facing temptation.
God may however allow you to experience trials that are more than you can bear on your own. God may allow you to experience difficult situations that are overwhelming and too hard to carry by yourself. God isn’t promising a way out when facing trials. In fact Jesus told us in this world we would have trouble. God allows you to go through trials to develop perseverance and maturity in your life. He doesn’t want you to try and find a way out during these times. The brother of Jesus, James, understood this and reminded us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Real life teaches you that God will allow you to go through experiences that are more than you can bear or handle on your own.
I have known many people who have been through circumstances that were beyond what they could bear or handle alone, especially involving the loss of someone close to them. I have walked through some of these experiences lately in my own life. This was also true for the early disciples. Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down. That is more than anyone could bear on their own. Christians around the world throughout the centuries have been persecuted and gone through circumstances and situations that are unbearable. Moreover, the entire book of Job is about a man who endured a great deal of suffering. All of his children died at the same time. He lost his health. He lost his wealth. His circumstances were so unbearable that his wife told him to curse God and die. So, yes as a follower of Christ you could be allowed, by the sovereignty of God, to go through circumstances that are more than you can bear alone. We have to remember like Job, that God is good and that regardless of what happens in life we can always trust him.
Here are some promises we have from God when we experience unbearable circumstances.
1. God’s grace is sufficient for you. The Apostle Paul was experiencing a “thorn in the flesh”. We are not exactly sure what the affliction was, but it was tormenting Paul. He pleaded with God to take it away but God responds to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 and lets him in on an important truth, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God’s grace doesn’t inoculate us from pain but it does give us strength. Paul accepts God’s answer and responds by saying he will boast about his weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Your weaknesses and hardships provide the perfect opportunity for God’s power to rest on you and the strength of Christ to be displayed.
2. God’s peace will guard your heart and mind when you need it. When you pray and present your needs to God, he promises to give a peace that transcends all understanding that will guard your heart and mind. This is a peace that is hard to describe unless you have experienced it. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-8).
3. God will be with you, never leave you, and provide for your material needs. The writer of Hebrews quotes these words from Deuteronomy 31:6 when Moses was speaking to the Israelites, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” This verse in spoken in the context that God will provide for your physical needs. He won’t abandon you. He won’t leave you. You are not alone no matter what you go through.
4. Jesus will give you rest when you are burdened and weary. Matthew 11:28 Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus lets you know that when you are weary and burdened and carrying more than you can bear that you should transfer the burden to him and allow him to carry it for you. He wants you to come to him. He wants to walk with you through your trials. He wants you to lean on him and lean into him as you go through difficult times.
So, God will always provide a way out when you are tempted. However God may allow you to go through more than you can bear alone. God doesn’t give you what you can handle, he helps you handle what you are given. When this happens, God’s grace will be sufficient for you, his peace will guard your heart and mind as you pray, he will not leave you, and he can give you rest. You don’t have to carry your burdens alone.