What You Won't Find In A Christian Bookstore

By paperthinhymn

Note: The following article is not authored by TruthForFree.com. Source credit for the article can be found at the link above and below the article. I wanted to share this article with our visiting friends because it really encouraged me today and, actually, corrected me a bit as well. Some of you know that my wife and I have gone through some hard times recently and I’ve been guilty of using some of the same religious terminology and concepts that I learned in church world… namely the notion that God won’t give us more than we can handle. After reading the following article, I was reminded and encouraged with the truth of Scripture, which teaches that God does allow us to deal with circumstances beyond our natural ability to handle… This gives us opportunity to put faith in HIS strength while we recognize our weakness and need for Him once again. Perhaps I should add that, though I believe God is sovereign and able to intervene in our lives and order events to help us turn toward Him in the midst of struggle, I don’t think this means that God has some kind of manipulative intent to give us trouble to force us to call out to Him, but I simply believe that there are many factors in life that cause us to fall into circumstances that are sometimes beyond our ability to handle without help. The Scripture teaches that His strength is revealed in our weakness. God loves to help us and desires that we place our trust in Him, rather that feeling like we have to handle everything on our own. I hope you’ll read the follow-up comments to this article as well. The author of this article (to whom I intend all due respect) is perhaps a little “raw” or less than eloquent in some of his presentation (for lack of a better way to put it). My heart was encouraged by what he shared, but I can understand how some may struggle with elements of his presentation. Please read my follow-up comments. I hope you find encouragement as I did. -Dave



There is a saying in Christendom that goes something like this “God will never give you more than you can handle”. This is a mantra that is repeated over and over as a way of building up the willpower to overcome an especially difficult situation. As it were, there is a struggle and a weight that exists inside people as the burdens of this world begin to accumulate. It might be anything- the loss of a loved one, the loss of employment. Broken relationships. Divorce. Death. Desertion. The consequences for private sins and the harping of the devil. For those suffering, whatever it is- physical, emotional or spiritual- heartache rips at them. Sorrow fills them. Uncertainty bids them. Stress cripples the mind and things once firm and decided begin to shudder and crumble. In those moments of personal pain, people with good intentions might offer the reassurance to the one hurting “God will never place a burden on you so heavy that you cannot carry it.”

That might seem reassuring and spiritual sounding, but more often than not it is unhelpful at best and biblically suspect at worst. Why? because this is not a legitimate promise of God. It is a promise that many people believe is there, but sadly are mistaken and the word of God offers us no such false condolences.

What the scripture does say in context, is “Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
[1 Corinthians 10:7-14 ESV]

The aforementioned verse is a legitimate promise of God that we can stand firm in, but that promise does not say that God will never give us more than we can handle in this life. Instead this word is speaking about temptations, speaking specifically about our innate ability to turn everything good that God has made into an idol which we then bow down to in though, word and deed. We have a propensity to idolize things that we ought not to. We misuse sex, food, sport, music and pleasure and make those things our gods. We are by nature idolaters, and so we need to be on guard and take great care that we do not inavertedly walk in this. We must take care to ensure that we are not lulled into complacency by our own prideful assessment of our ability to resist and fall prey. These verses are not about situational hardships that we go through in life, but rather they are about being tempted from sin and the flesh.

So that verse isn’t saying what people like it to say, so what then do we may of this quote? When we find ourselves unable to live up to the expectation that we must endure hardships because they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t surmountable on our own, we either grow bitter or we despair. The bitter man is the Christian who believes there is a promise from God that says they will never have to endure anything beyond their ability to handle. And yet when he has an event happen in his life that he can’t handle, from that moment they quit trusting God and grow disillusioned and disappointed. The rational is this- if God lied about this and broke this promise, how can I ever trust anything He says? That’s one possibility. The second possibility is despair- “God will never give me more than I can handle, and yet I can’t handle this.” What must that say to the person about their relationship with God? That they are a failure who isn’t spiritual or strong enough. That their fragility is weakness and their inability is insufficiency. There is a sense of “What is wrong with me that I can’t endure, that I can’t handle these trials that I’m supposed to be able to handle”? which leads to despondence.

And yet God’s word is clear that we will have trials that we cannot handle- that we will brush right up against the agonies that result from this contorted, fallen world. St Paul writes “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.” [2 Corinthians. 1:8-9 ]

And so what is the answer? When we walk through the hardships of this world. When we suffer loss and become at a loss ourselves. When we are tormented and attacked and when we can hardly breath or think straight because we are overwhelmed by our circumstances and by the stains of our sins and the sins of others in our life, we read the rest of the verses. “Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death…..But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

God gives us more than we can handle so that we will rely on him. All things direct us to him and his work. The promise is not a perpetual conquering based on our own abilities and fortitude. We are not told to grimace and through sheer force of will bear the burdens on our own- that will only produce pride in ourselves for our ability to endure. Rather, our inability to endure shows that only Christ Jesus is able to sustain us. It might be paralleled to the work and function of the law, which in our inability to perfectly keep it we see our need for a saviour who has kept it for us. For this reason, a more accurate statement might be that “God will never give us more than He can handle for us.”

We need to know that in the face of hardships and burdens that it is ok to feel crushed, desperate and helpless. It is ok to feel weak and poor and unable. It is ok to have to swallow back a sob and feel that embarrassed aloneness when you realize that this is not something that you can do on your own. Because that points us to Christ. That drives us to Him who is always strong, always powerful, always unfailing full of grace.

To quote Greg Lucas “My experience is that God will place a burden on you so heavy that you cannot possibly carry it alone. He will break your back and your will. He will buckle your legs until you fall flat beneath the crushing weight of your load. All the while He will walk beside you waiting for you to come to the point where you must depend on Him. “My power is made perfect in your weakness,” He says, as we strain under our burden. Whatever the burden, it might indeed get worse, but I know this–God is faithful. And while we change and get old, He does not. When we get weaker, He remains strong. And in our weakness and humility, He offers us true, lasting, transforming and undeserved grace.”




The above article was copied exactly as it appeared at the source website: Both parts //thehasbeenhymn.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/does-god-give-us-more-than-we-can-handle-is-the-promise-true/. Article is property of the author, whom can be contacted by visiting this link.



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7 Responses to Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

  • I appreciate the sentiment but I guess the point of this post is about trusting in God when we are overwhelmed.
    That quote from Greg Lucas gives me no comfort whatsoever. If I put my trust in God and therefore entrust my wife and child to him and they get kidnapped and systematically raped, is this him ‘buckling my knees’ so I depend on him more? Does he need to use evil to enhance my character? What would that tell my little child about her Father in heaven? Especially if I tell her it was sent from God as a character building exercise?!

    Perhaps evil is just that: evil. Not something God sends. Myself and my wife just had a tragedy ourselves and I don’t for a second think it was a test. It was a horrible example of the curse and the fall. God is always good and always faithful but he’s not a control freak controlling everything. Bad things happen cause there are free human and heavenly being choices that genuinely affect things.
    How we respond to what happens is a test in itself. I could have told God where to go or I could allow it to move me closer to him and trust him even though I have no idea why such a heartbreak would happen to us. I know he can work good out of it but that doesnt mean he caused it.
    He’s a genuinely good God and a good Father who wants the best for his kids.

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  • Oh and by the way I could be totally wrong, it’s just my current understanding of the Fathers heart which is a journey I’ve been on for a couple of years.

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  • Thanks for the comments Ferg. I understand the impression you received after reading this article. Certainly my intention in sharing it wasn’t to suggest that God goes around deliberately crippling people so that they call out to Him. I think the basic point the article intends to convey is that Scripture clearly teaches that it is in our weakness that His strength is realized. If we could handle everything that comes along in life, what need would we ever have for God? I really think that’s the point that was intended. I know there are many circumstances I have faced in my own life that I have no idea how I could have handled without the Lord’s help and strength. When my wife and I lost our baby this last December it was devastating! At one point, as we were standing in the doctor’s office and both of us crying our eyes out, my wife turned to me and said, “I’m just not as strong as you David. I don’t think I can bear this.” I told her the truth, from the bottom of my heart, that the only way I was even able to stand on my feet and not buckle under the sorrow, stress and confusion was because the Lord was there with me, granting His strength and love. He carried both of us through. I certainly don’t believe that God was trying to smash us so that we’d trust Him, but I am so thankful that I have Him in my life because I don’t know how I would have been able to deal otherwise. How often do we hear stories of other people who can’t handle life’s turmoil and pain, and then turn to things like drugs or suicide. It seems they found themselves with more than they could handle. So it is from this perspective that I meant to share the article. There are simply things in life that we really do need God’s strength for.

    I will also agree that not everything in life is a test of God… The devil is to be blamed for his share of trouble, and we human folk get into plenty of trouble on our own. Sometimes we can handle it and sometimes we need a little help. In fact, I think God designed us this way. The entire concept of the Church of the Lord Jesus is that we are together a Family; the Family of God. We are supposed to lean on one another at times. There’s a great song by the rock band U2 that says, “Sometimes you can’t make it on your own.” I think that’s very true.

    My heart genuinely goes out to you for the heartbreak you have suffered. Please know that I had no intention to agitate any wound by sharing that article and I completely hear your point. Perhaps I should have prefaced that article by saying that the author (whom I do not know personally) seems to be a little raw and (shall I say) less-than-eloquent in his presentation at time, but I really liked the overall point, which struck me simply as “we need God.” I do think there are times that He may give us more than we can handle, so that He can teach us to rely on Him more but sometimes I think life just happens and we can either struggle through on our own or reach out to the Father. That’s the main thing I latched onto. I do apologize if that wasn’t the primary message that came across. God bless you Ferg and I do pray that He will give you comfort and strength through whatever you are going through.

    Andrae Crouch used to sing a song that said, “Oh if I never had a problem, I’d never know that God could solve them… I’d never know what faith in His Word can do…. That’s the reason I say that through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus… I’ve learned to trust in God.” Bless you! 🙂

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  • Dave,
    This article is profoundly awesome!! I will agree that it can indeed rub salt into our wounds, especially if we are going through stuff or are hurt and wounded.
    On the other hand, there is freedom when realizing that we cannot save ourselves and God wants to be the one to save us and not our own strength and craftiness; (He is quite jealous about that). I confess I am quite guilty of doing that to the point of exhaustion….
    Although it is so very hard for the western mind to grasp what “having a God” means, I am grateful to expose another lie propagated by ‘churchianity’ just like “God helps those who help themselves”– which is another huge lie.
    I wish I had heard this 30 years ago!!
    Blessings,
    Bill

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  • 1 Corinthians 10:13
    I thought this was a a good exchange. I too have been concerned by those who share this passage by eliminating the word temptation. Of the biggest concern are those who I feel are more mature in the Word than I am who quote the verse inaccurately. Sometimes people attempt to encourage and may embellish what the Bible has to say or quote things that are not accurate.

    Let me share that I am going through such a tough period of time. Over the last 5 years there has only been a short respite.

    I am having a tough time discerning whether I am being disciplined by the Lord (Hebrews 12:6,7) or whether is is Satan (1 Peter 5:8).

    The other verse I hear quoted over and over is Jeremiah 29:11. –> For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. How many times has someone quoted that to you or me? It seems to be a favorite. What does ‘prosper’ actually mean? In the King James version it says: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. I do not see the word ‘prosper’ here. Also the context is related to those exiled from Judah.

    Recently I received an email that I really questioned. Some people (even pastors) speak in cliches. What are they really saying? The words were “get yourself in line with what He wants. That means – doing what He wants you to do – living where He wants you to live – and acting on the purpose He has given you”. My response was something like: “…..I have heard over and over from some about what God wants but have never heard a convincing story how anyone knows what God wants. As I said, in some circles that terminology has almost become a cliche….easy to rattle off but very little thought behind what they are sharing. People seem to confuse their vocation in the business world or other activities with ‘what God wants”.

    Another individual pointed to a blog he wrote. Blogs are problematic since they can be interpreted in many ways and there is no way to have an exchange of ideas to clarify what the message was intended to be. Looking back now, many of the communiques have been along the lines of me, me, me? Not a good reflection of the trait of being humble. He shared a few things that were going on in his life and started with issues such as money, deficiency, and discouragement and after explaining a few challenges concluded with how he had enough, was enriched, and was encouraged. Surely I do not know all he has had to deal with in life but what he described came off as pretty lame. For those going through some really tough times and reading words like these, it was not very compelling. What about those who have dealt with some severe life challenges? It is even worse since his vocation had been as a shepherd to a congregation.

    Jeff

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  • I understand where Ferg is coming from but to truly understand suffering and how a loving God could allow us to suffer as much as we do, never mind using suffering as a test, we need to look beyond ourselves. If you consider Job’s suffering (he lost all his children in one foul swoop) or consider the children of Darfur, it takes on a new dimension. The problem with many of the so called promises is that they pander to our selfishness and unwillingness to identify with Christ in his suffering. We all know how helpful it is to speak to someone who can empathize with what we are going through because they have suffered equally or worse. How would they be in a position to minister to us if they had not born the weight of such suffering themselves.

    When given the choice of being humiliated by men or being admonished by God, David chose to fall into the hands of an awesome but loving God. Given the choice of being mauled by Satan or wounded by God there is no question which I would choose. Ezekiel lost his wife to demonstrate Israel’s unfaithfulness while Jeremiah lived a life a suffering despite his faithfulness. These, surely, were men held in high esteem. Its God’s wish that we grow to understand how great his love is but also to love him with that same love. How much more will we know that love if we have been stripped to the core and yet refuse to curse him.

    If we are scared that God would allow us to suffer intolerably, rather than hold on to a promise that he wouldn’t do that, it would be better to get to know him better. That way, whatever befalls us we can be sure that he will always be there for us because that’s what he’s like. Better the God you know than the devil you don’t.

    I heard a prayer that I really liked which I paraphrased for myself. Lord, please don’t give me as much as I can bear because I can bear much more than I care to.

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  • Fairly well stated, thank you.

    The fact of the matter is that God DID allow 30 thousand children today to go under more than they could bear when they died of malnutrition and related disease.

    16,000 children will be homeless in New York city tonight, to the continued destruction of their bodies during their crucial time of development. What about them?

    God can and does do anything he pleases and often allows people to go under WAY more than they can bear, myself included. It is with fear and trembling that we should beg our Holy and Almighty God to protect and bless us and to help us draw near to him. All we can do is hope that he answers with blessings. That we even take another breath, remain able to walk, or maintain whatever degree of freedom we may have only occurs because God allows it.

    The religious sentiment that God puts no one under more than they can bear is absurd, arrogant, humanistic, and in direct conflict with the Bible and we can see countless examples, both in the scriptures and in modern life all around us of people of great faith being put under way more than they can bear, to the point of insanity or death. Congrats to you for debunking this absurd religious doctrine in your blog.

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