I’ve heard it more often than not lately: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
Though there’s a comfort in that sentence, without question, it is worth nothing, however, that it was never written into the Bible. No where is that sentence found.
The closest I’ve ever come is Mother Teresa saying, something close to that and adding, “But He and I seldom agree on what that is.”
These past couple weeks have sort of been that way. I’ve felt like I desire the world to just hit the mute button.
But then I heard this, and it spoke into my heart.
The question was, “Does God call you to just a little more than you can accomplish on your own? Does He ever call you to what you can do by yourself?”
The answer is, of course, yes and yes.
When some difficulty arises in the life a believer (or anyone else), this supposed verse gets tossed out there like a Scripture bomb. Sure, it sounds compelling, and it does remind us of God’s care and concern for each of us. After all, He knows exactly the number of follicles growing out of your cranium:
“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)
But it’s because God loves us and knows us that He must give us more than we can handle. After all, we humans have a tendency to think that we can do everything on our own. Our pride has a way of dragging us down:
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
To keep us grounded in the reality of our need for a Savior, God graciously allows us to see just how much we can’t handle. He put the prophet Elijah’s back against the wall and made him depend upon birds, He gave Moses 600,000 impossible-to-please travelers, He tasked the 11 apostles with spreading the gospel all over the world, and He’ll give you way more than you can handle, too.
Now, the Bible does say that God won’t allow you to be tempted beyond your limits:
“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.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
And that is certainly great news. We all need the assurance. But temptation is not usually what people mean when they say this supposed verse.
Think of it this way: If God only gave us what we could handle, never stretching us, never helping us grow, then we would do it, whatever it is, on our own. All glory be to Billy, or something like that. We wouldn’t need God, or Jesus, or the helpful hand and loving push of the Holy Spirit. And we most certainly do.
Remember, Jesus went through this in the Garden on the night before he died.
He cried out in the garden, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). Jesus told His father, “This is too much for me!”
We see this kind of thing in the Psalms, too. The Psalmists ball their fists in rage, and shout at God, “Why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22) In their sadness they say, “darkness is my closest friend” (Psalm 88).
What these verses teach us is that it’s OK to feel like we can’t handle it, like we are going to give up. We can cry out, “My soul is overwhelmed to the point of death.”
It’s OK because we can turn to He who guides us, directs us, loves us, stretches us. And when we do this, we find God—the one who, in the person of Jesus, suffers with us. Get that? With us. He doesn’t take it away. Nah, nah, He walks through it with us. The weight then is lessened because He is with us, pushing that dang rock up the hill.
A rock, a burden, a challenge that is just a little bit more than I can handle.