It was one of those articles going somewhat viral around the Christian circles on Facebook. That was just the first time I was confronted with the question. Then in the past couple weeks since then I have been bombarded with it:
On those hardest of days, I agree with a friend (ok, so I am nowhere near where she is at in terms of challenges and hardship – amazing what perspective can do for you! – but still),
“oh He definitely gives me more than i can handle on a regular basis. He overwhelms me daily. i cry all the time. i used to scream up to Him to help me, to provide some relief, to comfort one baby for me while i helped another… He never did. He has brought me to a place where i am alone and isolated, where i usually have only me to rely on. i am constantly exhausted – i can only ever go to bed after midnight, i have a baby who stays up and then wakes often in the night, often 10 times. so i am always tired. He gave me a wonderful husband through all this, but it’s still too hard most of the time. … i have been suicidal, i have been drunk with joy, i have been terrified, i have been hopeless and i have been blessed enormously. sometimes my very blessedness makes me feel guilty for feeling so overwhelmed.”
…and I emphatically say, YES!!!!!! Too much, it’s too much Lord!
Interesting, that most people going through a difficult situation tend to feel that it is indeed too much for them to bear. On good days though, farther from heartache and trouble (temporarily), we think we can handle it. Maybe we even get a little cocky and think that we really can do it in our own strength. So ask someone who’s life is going along well and the answer is more likely to be, “No, I don’t think God gives us more than we can handle.” *thinking isn’t that somewhere in the Bible?*
Now that I have said how I feel, let me back up this argument with some actual Biblical evidence. This particular statement, that “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” isn’t even in the Bible. There is a statement that sounds like it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” But notice that verse is about temptation. That’s it. You won’t be tempted beyond what you can stand up against. This text is not saying that you will not experience more than you can bear. That idea just isn’t Biblical. If anything the exact opposite is true. Look at this text.
“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers and sisters, 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).
Later, Paul will write it is when he is weak that the strength of Christ is seen. In other words, when we can’t do it any longer. When we are fed up. When it has become too much. When we have nothing left. When we are empty. When it is beyond our capability to deal with it. Then, in that moment, the strength of the God of resurrection will be seen. Until we get to that point, we rely on ourselves thinking we can handle it and take care of the problem.
You can read the full article here. [Note: I found this article to be insightful and Biblically accurate but I have not done enough reading to necessarily endorse other content on his blog.]
I think of Job, Joseph, the martyrs of the early church, Mary, a lonely unwed mother, even David who walked through the valley of the shadow of death. That sounds pretty bad to me.
Another one of my friends made an interesting point:
“As I’m thinking about Job, and how it seemed to be more than he could handle, I am also thinking that what happened was beyond Job’s control. So I think when something happens outside of our control, that seems like too much for us to handle. It could be God’s way of allowing us to trust in him more and rely on him, as well as it is maybe not God giving us more, but “allowing” more to happen.”
She also had what I think is a very good and culturally applicable thought and I have to say I agree.
“Sometimes, we become addicted to busyness, and have a hard time saying no. So I think sometimes we inflict upon ourselves too much for us to handle. Whether it be because we want more money so we want a second job, whether it be we want people to like us, whether it be we want to feel loved so we have to go to everything our friends invite us to, or whether it be for other reasons, we sometimes choose these things we don’t have to, and are putting ourselves into a situation where it is more than we can handle. So sometimes, even if we think something is more than we can handle, we shouldn’t always blame God for letting it happen, we should also look to see if we are partially responsible.” I couldn’t have said it better.
“But he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. … for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor.12:9-10)
A comforting thought from another friend, “I have always been so glad that God doesn’t measure out His grace at the beginning of the day, or week, or month and then say, “Too bad, you’ve run out, you’ll have to wait now for a new supply.” His goodness is moment-by-moment and, in my life so MANY times, minute-to-minute. You are grace-full all the time because you are full of HIM.”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
Why does God give us, or allow us to experience, more than we can handle? So that we come to Him. So that we need Him. Rely on Him. So that we live our lives in His strength. We can do so much more. We can be who He really wants us to be through the refining process of having more than we can bear. We can learn humility and compassion. And we can grow.
Nope, hard times are not fun. We are usually not running around rejoicing while being crushed by a huge burden. Thankfulness is not our instinctive reaction. But the difficult season you’re going through may be God’s invitation for you to come to Him, receive Him, and experience His Peace that passes all understanding.
The mom that I quoted from the beginning of this post sums it up beautifully:
“i believe that God walks with us and holds us in the raging waters – He doesn’t promise to help us avoid them altogether. how would we ever learn and grow and get strong if He only gave us what we can handle? how would we see our desperate need for Him?”