When God Gives Us More Than We Can Handle

“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

I’ve heard the words my entire life.

I may have even said them a time or two.

And I’ve believed a lie.

I can’t say the words any longer to a mom who has buried her child or a teen girl who has traded sex for food so her siblings wouldn’t starve and I can’t look into the face of Maureen and tell her she’s strong enough to handle tragically losing half her family, and continues to suffer beyond understanding.

Because that’s more than anyone can handle.

The words aren’t even Biblical. Actually, the Bible promises us hardship in this life and tells story after story of suffering.

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)

If that doesn’t speak of despair and being thrown more than can be handled, I don’t know what does. We are promised tribulation and persecution in this life. We might even die (or feel like it). But He is made strong in our weakness. John 16:33 “…In Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

And He has endured every sorrow we may carry.

The purpose of our pain is to make us rely on God, so that His great power is made evident in our weakness–when we can’t handle another thing.

When we are able to continue and survive with peace in the midst of tribulation, others won’t see us. They will see Him.

“Not once have I danced around our house shouting, “Yeah suffering!”  Instead, in the midst of pain and hurt, I am actively expecting God to do something.  I don’t know what.  I don’t know when.  But I am expecting the God of resurrection to heal us.  I am expecting God to restore us.  I am expecting him to redeem this situation.  I am expecting him to do this and so I will be actively looking and waiting for him to do something.  I believe expectant waiting can only happen when we exchange our feeble platitudes for an authentic faith that engages God with the full brunt of our emotion and pain.  Only then can salvation been seen.” -Nate Pyle

So, Maureen, today as you look in the face of fear and need more Jesus, instead of saying “you can bare this,” I’m going to say, “as you bare this, you aren’t alone.” And somehow, someway He makes things good.

Because that’s the truth we are promised.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    These words are truth and so desperately needed.

    Yes, in this life there are things that cannot be explained away, only experienced and survived for sharing lessons later in life and pursuing the work of the Kingdom.

    Each of you are doing just that.

    May God be with all of you and fortify you against all of the trials this noble calling brings with it.

    You are saving lives, enriching heaven and giving mercy to those who cannot find it elsewhere.

    May GOD bless you and keep you safe. You are certainly not alone. We’re lifting you up and interceding on your behalf.

  2. 2

    says

    I say God won’t give me more than He can handle and this is true. He has broken me, brought me to my knees, and made me utterly dependent on Him. In my weakness I am made strong through Him. His grace is sufficient for me. My favorite song right now is Casting Crown’s Praise You in This Storm. Once again He is breaking me, refining me. My 16-month-old is having a second MRI done a week from Monday. He has three out of four ventricles enlarged and swollen in his brain and will most likely require surgery in the next few months. We went through this very same thing with my oldest. He has taught me to lean on Him the last eleven years as we’ve been through a lot with illnesses, accidents, and deaths. In all this, I say, “Amen.” To God be the glory.

  3. 3

    says

    THANK YOU for this! I was actually going to write my own blog post (though not nearly as eloquent as yours) on the same subject. 1 Cor. 10:13 says we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear, but when we face temptation He will give us a way out from under it (Heidi paraphrase). That verse doesn’t promise that He will not give us more than we can handle. In fact, I truly believe God gives us more than we can handle so that we DO depend on Him. I mean, if we could handle things we wouldn’t need Him to be our Rock, our Prince of Peace, our Fortress or any of the other names that proves He’s got things, even when we’re broken and at the end of ourselves.

    Maureen was on my heart last night when I was sleepless and I didn’t understand why, thinking it was “just” the grief over losing her mom (can one ever say “just” when it’s about the grief of losing a parent????), but after seeing your tweet this afternoon I understand it’s something more.

  4. 4

    says

    Amen! Such a commonly misquoted, rather pithy saying … this life is full of stretching, pain, trials. And our God is bigger than all those things.

    Thinking of Maureen … and you … often. There’ll be something in the mail for your sweet oldest girl, too.

  5. 6

    says

    Your post reminded me of something Katie Davis wrote in her book, Kisses from Katie:

    “I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle. Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives.”

    Praying for you!!! May He be glorified…

    • 6.1

      Tara says

      Yes! I just recently read her book, and this part stood out to me also. It was the first time in 30 years that I heard this, and it was so comforting and powerful to me.

  6. 8

    Karen says

    This profound truth needs to be shouted from the roof tops! THANKFUL that it was shared with me numerous years ago because I had just “swallowed” what I heard many people repeat!

  7. 9

    Lynnebee says

    praying for Maureen, and your family and your ministry this morning. Only God can handle all things. May He be glorified thru these trials

  8. 10

    says

    About a year ago i read “the beauty of Christ through brokenness” by K.P. Yohannan where he addresses this subject, and shared it with as many people as i could (its a free mini book online). I was saddened to realize how easily we turn soundbites into “truth” upon which we base our lives and our view of God. Its definitely helped me to be more aware of the way i speak into someone elses life and the way i recieve wisdom from others. Always always confirm with God’s word. Thank you for posting!

  9. 11

    Jennifer B says

    Thanks for sharing this today, I really needed it!

    I think all these years I have “believed the quote about more than you can bear” and I have really struggled with it. We found out last weekend that my Dad’s cancer is back for the 3rd time. I want to scream about how unfair life is and just be angry but I also HAVE to rejoice that the circumstances brought it to light months before his next PET scan was due. Trying to praise in the storm is never easy and something I desperately need to work on. We will continue to pray for Maureen and everyone involved with Mercy House.

  10. 12

    Kelly Jackson says

    My favorite saying and I can’t remember where I found it…

    “God doesn’t give you want He thinks you can handle. He gives you what you need to handle what you have been given.”

    Thanks for posting this.

  11. 14

    JR says

    Instead of “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” I’ve taken to saying “God won’t give you more than He can handle.” A few Marches ago (March is a terrible month for me…), I got to the point where I said, “God, I cannot handle even one more thing going wrong.” There had been multiple deaths in the family, work drama, and other things that I’ve probably blocked from my memory. The next day I found out that my sister had been cutting herself. So, I went back to God and said, “All right God…You heard me yesterday, so this one is all on You. You’re in charge of dealing with it, because I just can’t.” I can’t wait for the day when I will truly entrust all of my trying circumstances to Him, not just the ones where I’ve reached my end.

  12. 15

    says

    I’m so glad you wrote this! I hate when people say it, because it isn’t true. We are constantly thrown into waters that toss us to and fro, fighting the drowning. But, HE always come through at some point. Even after we have suffered much. He heals, He restores, His mercy is what we go on, not some made up pipe dream in the land of wishful thinking. And if He didn’t give us more than we without Him could handle, then we would be enough and the message of the cross would be all for not.
    Thank you for saying it!

  13. 16

    cynthiasolc says

    He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
    Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.”
    Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
    John 13:16-18

    Praise be to you Lord, Jesus Christ.

    I have never known pain and suffering like I do now, and I have never known the love of God like I do now. With this pain He has shown me that this is not heaven. That my life is not MY life, but His.

    There is so much pain, but there is infinite love. Let us be like Mother Mary, and entrust our lives and our pain and joy to our God.

    Please tell Maureen how many people are praying for her. God is with her, ALWAYS.

  14. 17

    says

    Yes!! I am so glad you said this. I learned at a very young age that sometimes God DOES give us more than we can handle. If He didn’t, when would we ever need Him? It is exactly in those moments–the ones we can’t handle–that we need more of Jesus. What a good place to be.

    Praying for Maureen. And for you, Kristen.

  15. 20

    Jason Love says

    With all respect, not sure I agree. The statement made saying those words are not in the Bible is not true. The entire story of Job is about the hardships He endured to prove his love and faith towards God. I see the main issue is that our focus is not on God’s desires but our own. Very sorry to hear this story however.

  16. 21

    Misti says

    Prayers for you & Maureen! I know that for me, I am so thankful for the promises of God, especially in the middle of a crisis & for the family & friends who join with me in prayer. I can’t imagine going through a crisis without that!

  17. 22

    says

    Praying for your whole family (including all those you love and love you)….
    Thanks for breaking that habit of that bad lie. I don’t know how many times in life I’ve broken down and wondered “Really God? I’ve got nothing left!” only to realize that once the pain subsides God was holding me the whole time.

  18. 23

    says

    I just lost my 31 year old severely challenged daughter. I have given her complete care all my life. I agree with what you just wrote. God is giving me strength, but….it is extremely hard. Thank you for your words and hope.

  19. 24

    says

    And although we don’t know Maureen – nor you face-to-face, in every day life, Kristen – we are praying. Praying constantly & honestly, standing with & for Maureen & you. Loss was never what we were made for. Praying it doesn’t define or defeat you for Victory has happened & is coming. We are with you! :)

  20. 25

    says

    AMEN! So many people use that phrase and I’ve always disagreed. After all, if we could handle it why do we need God? Very powerful post and one I’m in total agreement with. Thank you for putting in words what I believe in my heart.

    Blessings and love,
    Debbie

  21. 26

    Adam Stovall says

    Absolutely, Kristen. This truth is apparent in the Beatitudes as well. God is saying that we are blessed in difficult circumstances because we become more dependent on Him to provide the answers. Great post. Thanks for sharing it.

  22. 28

    Helen says

    I am a mom who has lost a child and I can’t tell you how many time I have heard that saying. Looking back and looking to scripture I can tell you that the truth isn’t in God only gives us what we can handle — the truth is God will help you handle what he gives you — if you let him. It is not easy, even after so many years, but I have peace because I have given it all over to Him. I know people who don’t know the Lord and I see the pain and the loss and pray for them.

  23. 31

    says

    Amen! If we could handle it, why would we need to depend on Him. I DO know that if HE brings me to it, He’ll bring me through it! Amen!

  24. 32

    says

    Amen, and amen!
    I tend to cringe when I hear someone say God won’t give me more than I can handle. Because, honestly? HE gives me more than I can handle on an almost daily basis. But, HE never gives me more than HE can handle!
    And because of that, I have hope.
    Thanks for posting these thoughts.
    Praying for you!

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  27. 36

    Ron says

    My wife and I have faced many overwhelming hardships in the last 3 years, many times we have both felt like giving up, through many tears, hurts, losses and failures. More than we could bear, without faith, God has kept our hopes alive through growing faith and our wonderful new church family. It taught us that things can be more than we could bear without him. It is by his grace that we have learned that without God there can be no hope, he has saved our marriage and taught us to rely on his word to ease our burdens and lighten our hearts, to find joy in him. He gives us more than we can bear to show us that we all need him. It isn’t easy to realize that he blessed us by bringibg us to him through trials and tribulations, yet they are because we learned of his glory and grace through suffering. Yet blessed we are for it. No God, no peace. Know God, know peace, bless you all.

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