God won’t give you more than you can handle.
If I had a pound for every time I’ve been told that since I became ill then I’d be a rich man.
I’m sure that the intention was good, because this message has mostly come from my believing friends. And I trust with all my heart that they were trying to be helpful, because it gives the impression that God somehow buffers us from all that can cause us suffering and pain.
But it simply isn’t true. It isn’t helpful. And it isn’t biblical.
Firstly, there’s an inherent criticism in this statement that says stop moaning. But that’s not Christianity, it’s Stoicism. If you believe that Christians shouldn’t grumble then I suggest you take a look at the Psalms, Lamentations or even Job. It makes me feel as though people really don’t want to listen to my struggles.
Or it suggests that you really don’t have enough faith, because if you did you’d be dealing with this a whole lot better. So now I’m a weak Christian.
It’s like that other old chestnut, you’re not praying hard enough. How do you pray hard? And isn’t the answer to prayer a grace of God rather than down to our works.
In other words, at its best it’s unhelpful and at worst hurtful, especially when someone is already suffering. I mean, imagine telling that to someone who’s just lost a child, been given a terminal cancer diagnosis, or has been sectioned in a psychiatric ward for the eighth time.
I believe the truth is that for some of us God truly does allow – rather than give us – more than we can handle, simply because he wants us to learn how much we depend on him, and how much he loves us in our weakness. He certainly did that to Job who rued the day he was born.
No, it’s only when we’ve been brought to the end of our own resources that we’ll truly discover how small we are and how big God is. This forces us to develop a dependency on him.
After all, when Jesus said that he is the way, the truth, and the life, part of that way was suffering so terribly on the cross that he thought God had forsaken him, only to be resurrected by God.
No, telling me that God won’t give me more than I can handle doesn’t ring true. Reminding me that God is with me in whatever I’m going through, even if I can’t feel his presence right now, does.
My faith is based on a relationship with God through Jesus, not a set of circumstances and how I respond to them.
p.s. I think the verse that’s being taken out of context here is 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.” This is about our temptation to go our own way, to sin.