I want to challenge this cultural misconception. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” That phrase sounds as if God thinks we are actually strong, when in reality, God knows we are weak. That expression places the responsibility to deal with pressures and temptations on the person who is going through a difficult time rather than on God who can handle all things.
The truth is, God won’t give you more than He can handle. The Bible teaches us that God’s power is unlimited, and it is at work in us. The Bible teaches us that God’s grace is sufficient, and it can soothe and comfort us in any test or trial. God has committed to doing the heavy lifting for us. He hasn’t committed to keep us from intense trial or times of suffering, but He has promised to be with us in the midst of them and to ensure that as we let Him lead, we will overcome.
Look at this passage from II Corinthians 1:8-9 to help us see what God might be up to by allowing us to come up against things we aren’t equipped to handle.
For we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure,
Right there, Paul debunks the idea that God won’t give us more than we can handle. Paul said, “I couldn’t handle what was happening. It was too much. It was more than I could deal with. It was beyond me.” It wasn’t just beyond his ability, but it was far beyond his ability. He went on to say, “It was far beyond our ability so much that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. II Corinthians 1:8-9
Ministry brought pain for Paul. Standing for Christ brought hardship. He felt as if he was doomed, as if he was dying, as if his life was over, but he declared there was a purpose for it all. He said it all happened so that there would be a move away from self-reliance to a complete dependence upon God in a way that people could see the power of the Resurrection at work in his life.
People need to be able to SEE Christ in us if they will be convinced to follow Him. What is our witness if it is JUST words? What is our testimony if we can only say to someone, “Jesus Christ died and is now alive, and His power is at work in my life to bring resurrection to every part of my life,” but we never demonstrate it to be so? If we could always handle what we face, who is it that people would be seeing in those moments? Us, right? But in situations which are beyond our ability to handle, they have an opportunity to see Christ at work!
So, Paul dealt with some intense pressures and troubles that were purposeful in the hand of God to enable him to learn to lean on and fully rely on God and to witness to others through his sufferings to the resurrection power of God in any circumstance.
In the verses that precede these in II Corinthians 1, we read about how God comforts us in our troubles and so that even in intense suffering there is intense blessing and fellowship with Christ in those moments from which we benefit. Yes, even the instances where we cannot handle what is being placed in our laps will serve to benefit us as we let God lead. Verse 5 talks about how our comfort abounds in those moments. Verse 6 speaks about an endurance that is born in those moments that enables us to go the distance with God.
I believe God purposely allows us to experience situations that are bigger than we are, that go beyond our ability to handle them, so that He can handle them and be seen in the process. One question we need to ask ourselves is, “Have we been faithful to allow God to handle the trials we face? Have others seen Him in our lives in those moments?” So, one reason God gives us more than we can handle is so that others see Him and the power of His resurrection.
Second, I believe God allows us to experience more than we can handle so that our personal faith is deepened. That is the part of II Corinthians 1:9 we have to embrace. “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.”
If you never have a trial or test, if you never have a need, if there is never pressure that goes beyond your ability to manage or navigate, what would you need God for? It is our trials and tests that drive us to explore the depths of His power, to seek the intimacy of His face and to know and follow His Divine purposes. Without God, you might “get through” a circumstance, but would you get through it to move into the Divine purpose for having to experience it in the first place? Without God you might “get through it,” but would you come out of it in a deeper relationship with God? Without God you might “get through it,” but would you experience the supernatural help that would ready you for the next time crisis would hit? Without God you might “get through it,” but would you emerge from it with a greater revelation of who God is? Without God you might “get through it,” but would your life offer the example to others that is supposed to become a routine and regular part of our lives as we follow Jesus? Remember, God isn’t just taking us somewhere, but He is transforming us in the process. A trial, in the hand of God, is a tool to shape us into the people He longs for us to become.
I believe God wants to use the difficulties we face to draw us closer to Him, transforming our relationship with Him and transforming us in the process. The goal of our transformation is that when people see us, they will see Jesus, that His life won’t be able to be distinguished from ours. They will be one in the same.
The truth is, you and I aren’t made to handle trials. It’s too exhausting to try to meet expectations, to figure out answers, to process our pain, and to navigate uncharted territory. What we do have the opportunity to do is to hand our trials over to God, so that His purposes for allowing them, come to pass in our lives.
Jesus invites us to bring all of the overload, all of the heaviness, all of the weariness to Him. Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Those are the words of Jesus, the words of a Savior who doesn’t want us to live overwhelmed, but to live with the strength and confidence He will provide.
How do we accept Jesus’ invitation to allow Him to handle what we cannot handle? We have to admit our weakness, our limitation, our vulnerability, our inadequacy. Jesus told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9 The sooner we throw up our hands and admit our inability to do what needs done and invite Jesus to take over, the sooner relief will come.
If you are overwhelmed today, if you are dealing with more than you can handle, why not turn it over to the Lord? Why not let Him reveal Himself? Why not let Him take you to a deeper place of faith? Why not allow your situation to become a living testimony to the power of the Resurrection? Why not rest in what God can do instead of being stressed by what you can’t do?
Hallmark Theology says, “God will not give you more than you can handle.” The Bible teaches that God won’t give you more than HE can handle.” Who is ready to turn some burdens over to Him?