Monday, November 14, 2011

God OFTEN gives us more than we can handle

One of the misquotations of the Bible that frustrates me most is when people say "God doesn't give us more than we can handle". It's meant to be a comfort, to tell us that things will never get so bad we can't handle it. And, oh, I know it's meant to comfort us that God is looking out for us. But it is an ill conceived and misleading comfort.

Firstly, nowhere in the Bible does God promise life will never serve us more than we can handle. In 1 Corinthians 10 it says that God will not allow us to be tempted more than we can bear, and when we are tempted he will provide a way out. This means that there is always the choice not to sin.

This has nothing to do with handling hardships and trials, which is what is implied in the misquotation.

It is no wonder people accuse Christians of simply having a god and a religion to make us feel better about the things that are out of our control, like God is a cosmic comforter blanket, when we ourselves treat him so. Like God is there to make sure, once we are Christians, that life is easy and cotton wool wrapped from the harshness of the rest of the world.

The fact is, God regularly gives us more than we can handle. He gives us responsibilities and challenges that are way beyond what we are qualified to deal with.

And while he doesn't give them to us, he also allows to experience events and circumstances in life that are heavy enough to crush us.

The important thing to remember in this is, along with what he gives us and allows us to experience, he also NEVER leaves us. We are too weak to handle much of what life will deal us - but God is not. There will be much we are given that we can't handle - but God can.

We have a responsibility to not be cotton wool wrapped Christians. We should know the words of God well enough to not misuse them and misquote them.

Saying God won't give us more than we can handle simply makes the people who feel like they are being crushed think that there is something wrong with them; it causes disillusionment with a god they think must have abandoned them.

It perpetuates an idea that Christianity is about being a safe distance from the world, on a fluffy cloud free from pain.

And that it is up to us to be strong. That there is something wrong with us if we are in pain.

If Jesus' life is any indication - and shouldn't it be every indication - being a Christ follower is not about a painless, cushy life. How can we expect treatment better than Jesus himself received?

But that shouldn't frighten us if we know the Rock on which we stand. When we know the Word of God, we know God. God may not have promised freedom from hardship in this life, but he is and has promised many things. Immanuel - God with us. Redeemer. Jehovah-Jireh. Almighty. Shepherd.

We have a God who is good. Who will never leave us nor forsake us.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
. Psalm 34:19

We will be given and experience more than we can handle. And why? Because the point is not to rely on ourselves, on our own strength, but on a God who has overcome it all.

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Cor 1:8,9, emphasis mine).


  1. Jess you are amazing... I have long thought about this and you have finally got it in words for me!! So true and it needs to be said more... Keep going.. eventually you will cover all the topics that have been bugging me for years! :)

  2. Ooh.  I can't even think of anything else to say in this comment.  You covered everything.  =)  Good stuff!