In this article I would like to examine the common phrase, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” I often hear people say this in response to someone losing a loved one or getting a bad health diagnosis. I never seem to understand why people think that this kind of phrase would help someone who is hurting. If what is meant by this phrase is that God is strong and will carry you through this difficult time that is one thing; however to come to that conclusion I have to make too many assumptions. It seems to me this phrase more often than not provides a false hope and security for the person. It doesn’t direct them to the strong savior, it directs them to look to him or herself. Christians should not be in the practice of saying things that we think sound good but have no basis in biblical truth. We should be in the practice of examining everything that we say. It does no one any good to repeat worldly phrases that do not speak the truth, nor encourage others. This phrase ultimately causes people to look to themselves and not to Christ in times of trouble.
Trials are always meant to strengthen the believer, cause the believer to look to Christ, and grow in Christlikeness. The trials are never meant or recommended to cause the believer to look to oneself for the source of their strength.
People often site the verse on temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:13 where it says, “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.” As Ad Robles has said about the meaning of this verse is that God is never going to put you in a situation where your only option is to sin. This does not mean that we won’t have to endure circumstances that we can’t handle within ourselves. The point is that we can’t handle them and should run to Christ. This verse is specifically discussing the temptation to sin not unfavorable life circumstances. In fact the bible assumes man will encounter all kinds of tribulation (Psalm 34:17, Psalm 91:5, Psalm 46:1, James 1:2, Romans 12:12, John 16:33). Trials are always meant to strengthen the believer, cause the believer to look to Christ, and grow in Christlikeness. The trials are never meant or recommended to cause the believer to look to oneself for the source of their strength. When someone tells you that God will not give you more than you can handle the normal person would immediately think, “I must be strong enough of a person to handle this otherwise I would not be going through this.” As I said above, this can only provide a false sense of hope and security. Nowhere in scripture will you find the idea to rely on yourself and your own strength; in fact you will always find the opposite.
If He conquered sin and death then we can be sure that He will give us the strength to stand when we face trials. The ultimate issue is the source in which we rely and which we think strength arises.
I would make the argument that God gives us things we can’t handle so that we would run to him. God wants us to rely on Christ’s strength, not on our own strength. Jesus himself tells us in this world we will have trouble but take heart I have overcome the world (John 16:33). Jesus directs our confidence to…Himself! Not ourselves. He points us to take heart, take courage and comfort in the fact that even though we face trials we have a Strong Savior who conquered the grave for us, overcoming sin and death! If He conquered sin and death then we can be sure that He will give us the strength to stand when we face trials. The ultimate issue is the source in which we rely and which we think strength arises.
Let’s look to Peter for our final example. Peter in Luke 22:33 tells Christ that he’s ready to die with him. Peter’s problem was that his confidence was in himself not in Christ holding onto him. The only reason that Peter or any believers can stand in hardship is because of the Savior that is holding onto us. Jesus says right before these verses, “Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Christ was praying for Peter that his faith would not fail and is doing the same for us. So let us not make the same mistake by encouraging others to rely on their own strength with this silly phrase. Rather, we must rest our confidence and reliance on our Savior in whom is all our strength.
Rachel is a wife and mother of four young children. She has a love for listening to expository preaching, theology, and doctrine. She desires to make Christ known through her marriage, parenting, and in every word and deed.