"God won't give you more than you can handle"
I have been told this phrase by well wishers more times than I can count. Many proclaim that it's what God said in the Bible. And for a while, I believed the well wishers when this phrase was uttered. This phrase is supposed to be an encouragement to people going through hard times. But once my life got really hard, hearing this phrase made me mad. I started questioning myself. Am I too weak? Why can't I handle this if God doesn't give me more than I can handle?
I don't believe that this phrase is true or what God says in the Bible. What I DO believe is that God doesn't give us more than we can handle WITH HIM, and ONLY with Him.
Here is why I believe that.
This is the verse that has been misinterpreted and I believe where we got the quote that God won't give us more than we can handle.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13 it says "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it."
So this talks about God giving us an escape from all temptation and that no temptation will be too much for us to bear. When we are tempted, we have the option of getting out of it and running to God, or running away from God and giving in to temptation. We have that choice.
What about suffering though? Does God really say that he won't give us more than we can handle? He never says that. The reason I don't think that 1 Corinthians applies to suffering is because temptation is a choice and suffering is not. I also don't believe that God "gives us suffering". Sin does. The devil does. That's what happened when Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden and we brought suffering to this earth.
What I DO believe is that God doesn't give us more than we can handle WITH HIM.
If God doesn't give us more than we can handle, then why would we need to rely on Him? Why would we need to cry out to Him? The trials of this world are too much to handle on our own. But they allow us to rely on God. To learn to depend on Him alone. To really live in His promises. To find rest in Him alone. To use His strength when we're too weak.
There are many places in the Bible where people are going through more than they alone can handle.
This is what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
"We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. Indeed, we felt we had received 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 again. 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 favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many."
Another version of verse 8 says "We were so crushed beyond our ability to endure that we even despaired of living".
So Paul, who is one of the most incredible men for God, was going through more than he alone could handle. He was thrown in prison, beaten, stoned because of the way he lived his life for Christ. He was given more than he could handle alone, but the only way he was able to handle it was with God. God gave him the strength to keep telling others about Jesus despite being almost killed multiple times.
Job in the Old Testament lost his livestock which supported he and his family, his whole family died, his servants died, and he was inflicted with severe physical pain. All of that was more than he alone could handle, yet in Job 1:21b he says "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of The Lord".
The only way he was able to make it through all of that was with God. Alone, that was too much to handle.
When I was younger, I believed that God didn't give you more than you can handle. But the past several years have changed my view.
I got mono when I was 13 and I could handle that. I was out of school for a month but knew I would be better soon. Well, I never recovered from the mono. Doctors said it was still the mono, but I kept getting worse and worse over the next 2 years. It was starting to be more than I could handle. I had to stop going to school and became bedridden. Doctors didn't know what was wrong, so we did something drastic and flew across the country to a medical clinic for challenging diseases. On December 3rd, 2008, 3 years after I got sick, I was diagnosed with Late Stage, Neurological Lyme Disease and many co-infections that are as hard to treat as the Lyme. For 3 years, while the doctors didn't know what was wrong, the disease took over my whole body, invading every organ including my brain and heart. We quickly learned that there is no treatment protocol for late stage Lyme, and that insurance wouldn't pay for my treatments. Let me say that again. Insurance doesn't pay for my treatments because there is no specific protocol to treat late stage Lyme and co-infections because there is little to no research about them, or a cure. I quickly got a PICC line put it which is a semi-permanent IV line that goes straight into your heart and out your arm. It allows you to get IV treatments without having to be poked every time you need to have blood drawn or receive treatments. I started having to go to the hospital about every other day for IV fluids, nausea meds, and morphine because of the pain all over. I also started giving myself IV fluids at home every day through my PICC line. After 9 months with my PICC line, I had surgery to implant a port in my chest that is a more permanent IV. It went from the right side of my chest, through my neck, and down to my heart. It's under the skin and you use stick a 1 inch needle in the port when you want to use it for IV treatments or blood draws. It's the same port that people get for their chemo treatments.
Since I was diagnosed almost 6 years ago, I have traveled from Oklahoma to Nevada where my Lyme doctor is 7 times, spending anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months there. I missed the last 3 years of high school, but finished it from home and graduated on time. I wasn't able to attend graduation though because I was in the ICU.
I've had 6 surgeries, 3 PICC lines, a port for 4 years, and over a hundred ER trips. I now have problems with every one of my organs and have been diagnosed with heart problems, brain problems including seizures, a stomach disease, joint problems, and many other things. Last year I had a staph infection from my port that caused me to have emergency surgery and be hospitalized in Nevada for a week. I was then on IV antibiotics for 7 weeks for the MRSA staph infection. Just recently I developed seizures from the disease. I'm only 21 and have been sick since I was 13. This is all too much to handle alone. But with God, I can not only handle it, but I can overcome it.
In 2012, we learned that my best friend, who had been battling cancer for 3 years, was going to be going to Heaven soon because the cancer was everywhere. Because I was not in school because of my health, I was able to sit with her every day until God called her Home. I was with her on that day that God took her Home to Heaven. The grief of losing my best friend at 20 years old is too much to handle alone. But with God, I grieve with hope. Hope that I will see her again in Heaven one day.
A year after my best friend died, my grandma, who I was very close to, became very ill and we were told she would be going to Heaven soon too. Once again, I was able to be with her almost every day. I was sitting right by her when God called her Home. Losing 2 of the closest people to me so close together would have been too much to handle without God.
Two days before my grandma died, my grandpa (her husband) was diagnosed with cancer, and soon after that, dementia. This May, a little over a year after my grandma died, I sat in the hospital holding my grandpa's hand when God called him Home. It was my mom's birthday that day, and I had 2 strains of the flu. All of that would have been too much for me to handle on my own.
I don't say all of this to complain or for pity. I say it to show how God can get you through anything. He can get you through the seasons of life that are too much to handle.
I have learned that in this life we will be given more than we can handle. Our bodies will get sick, we will lose loved ones, we will have financial problems, there will be divorces, poverty, abuse, and hunger. But we will NEVER, EVER be given more than we can handle together WITH God. God's promises are how we get through times when we have more than we can handle. God promises to never leave or forsake us. He promises to give us rest. He promises to guide us. He promises to carry us when we're too weak to walk on our own.
And the most beautiful part is this. Our weakness is when we see God the most. When we're given more than we can handle, we learn to appreciate the little things. We see God's love in those supporting us, and praying for us. We feel God's strength when we're too weak to get out of bed. I have seen God more in the hardest days of my life than in the best days of my life. Being given more than I can handle has allowed me to rely on God for everything.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says "Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."
So when, not if, we are given more than we can handle, we can trust that God's promises are just as true. In fact, it's the times that I'm given more than I can handle when I see God's promises the most. And I thank Him for that.
"This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life."