We had an incident this week that involved an attempt to throw a five-pound hand weight up to the top bunk bed. I now have one very remorseful son with bad aim and another extremely forgiving son with a broken foot. To be completely honest, I am actually surprised that we’ve made it this long before having a broken bone. Having three boys means injuries are par for the course.
This hasn’t helped my stress level at all though. Between caring for my injured child and carrying him everywhere, trying to teach my remorseful son about grace, and keeping tabs on the two-year old aka “Trouble” I’m feeling stretched thin. On top of that, Monday I found out it looks like our foster daughter is going to need another surgery. I need coffee.
It is times like these that well-meaning people often pull out the “God never gives you more than you can handle!” phrase. Apparently, they believe that I can really handle more than I feel capable of.
As well-intentioned as this is, this concept isn’t in scripture. Anywhere.
Regularly we see cases where people have more than they can handle. It is a result of the world’s fallen nature and things are just out of control. But, we want them to be controllable so we have attached ourselves to this “Bible verse” which really isn’t a verse.
We’ve actually taken a verse with a very different meaning and completely distorted it to give us some justification for trying to stay in our comfort zones, to put conditions on what God is allowed to burden us with, and to limit our own liability essentially.
“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.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
This passage is where we get this idea God won’t give us more than we can handle… except it is about temptation and not life’s trouble. God won’t allow us to be tempted in ways we aren’t able to overcome and He’ll always give us an escape. The author of Corinthians, Paul, writes that we will be able to endure it, but says nothing about it being easy.
It’s not wrong for us to want things to be easier. I honestly wish my son wasn’t hurt. I wish my other one wasn’t wracked with guilt. I wish I could bubble wrap my two-year old. I wish I could fix my foster daughter’s situation. But, I won’t ever wish away what God is doing in each of their lives and my life.
We could each give into temptation at this point. I could become a control freak instead of giving it to God. Most of the temptations we face aren’t about do it or don’t do it situations; they are about our hearts and attitudes. Are we running to God instead of blaming Him for our circumstances?
Following God can be painful. It’s not always safe: most of the disciples followed Christ to their deaths. But, Jesus is worth dying for even if it is just dying to ourselves and living for Him.
When we buy in to the whole “He won’t give you more than you can handle” myth, we are saying there is a point that we can’t go any farther; our strength will give out at that point and we are done.
When we place limits on what we are willing to go through, we limiting how far we are willing to go with God. It might be true that we can’t handle more, but God can. We are supposed to do this with His strength, not ours.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
Paul wrote this while imprisoned for his faith and yet, he states that he is content. God is enough.
When we try to limit our liability in following God, we limit what He is able to do with us. We limit what He is able to teach us.
Being comfortable is over-rated; nothing truly amazing comes out of being comfortable. What matters most in trial is how we run to God, not how much we think we can handle. It is a temptation to run from pain when we shouldn’t. We don’t get to limit God’s plan. Besides, being in the center of God’s will is where we get the best stories… five-pound weights and all.
11 thoughts on “More Than We Can Handle”
Congratulations on just getting your first broken bone – and I love the grace the older brother is giving the younger – believe me, that will come up in every holiday or family gathering forever! We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us – yes! So glad He never leaves us!
I want to yell out a Hallelujah at the end of this! Seriously, thank you, and AMEN. I so appreciate how you expose those well-intentioned words for the un-truth that they are and point us to what was really promised us. You hit it dead on: temptations are rarely about actions (do or don’ts) but attitudes. I’m with you, wishing often that things were easier in my life and in the lives of others who are suffering or walking through times that are leaving them stretched thin and exhausted, but I will not wish away what God is doing in the midst of all these situations. I only pray I can surrender to whatever it is he is doing. I pray the same for you, and for you to know the daily, moment-by-moment grace that’s running over. Thank you for joining your beautiful words with us at Unforced Rhythms.
Thank you, Amber! I love how you connected it to surrender too- it’s not until we surrender it all to God that He can begin to handle it for us. I appreciate your prayers too especially as we try to keep the six year old down for the next few weeks 😉
“When we place limits on what we are willing to go through, we limiting how far we are willing to go with God” … this is just a painful and beautiful truth all at the same time. But you’re so very right, and I’m grateful for your writing on it. (Don’t you sometimes just wish people would say, “Gee, that stinks!”)
I definitely agree, Beth! I think that sometimes the phrase tends to minimize someone else’s situation since we are saying that apparently God believes they can handle it. So isolating since it doesn’t allow others to come and walk alongside them in it. Thanks!
I have been thinking lately about that scene in Acts (?) where the disciples meet someone begging and they say, “We don’t have silver or gold, but what we do have we give to you, in Jesus’ name, rise up and walk.” What is striking me with that is the clear limit, clear boundary they had about what they did and didn’t have to give. LIFE gives us more than we can handle, God gives us grace and mercy. Thank you for your honesty here. We also have three boys and every summer I think, “Ok, this is probably going to be it . . . our first non-asthma trip to the ER.” I hope you have friends and family who recognize the deep waters you’re in and offer you love and grace.
Thanks for sharing your story. My favourite part is the part at the end about nothing good coming out of being comfortable! I definitely hear you! I hope and pray your little one heals quickly! Blessings,
Praying your little one heals quickly…My Three Sons were always trying crazy stunts growing up too. Once I walked into their bedroom just as the 8 year old was trying to encourage the 4 year old to jump from the top bunk and grab the ceiling fan blade as it went around! Why, you ask? So he could fly like Superman! Boys are NEVER dull 🙂
But as much as I enjoyed the story, I always love BOYS stories, I am in tears at the end of the post. It was so needful for me today, I thank you. God is so good.And as someone else said here, LIFE gives us more than we can handle, God will make it so I can pass through, go over, around or He can remove it if He desires! Blessings for this great devotion. ♥
An insightful point about the I Cor. 10:13 verse. It seems like I always want to run from pain, so I guess God has to overwhelm me to drive me into His arms. So sorry your little one is hurting, but I enjoyed the post. Thanks for sharing your sons’ name stories at my blog Doorkeeper. Blessings!
Beautifully presented your thoughts , may God continue to bless you and do tell your son that a grandpa is praying for his speedy recovery in a far away land India .
Thank you so much, Anil! Your encouragement is such a blessing to us too! I’m so glad to connect with you- I love how Christ is a common thread that can connect believers no matter how far away we all are from each other.