The Lying Line: God Never Gives You More than You Can Handle

Reflections from the first half of 2 Corinthians

I have pondered the line in the past.  “God never gives you more than you can handle.” A saying that makes you feel guilty after you feel overwhelmed or discouraged when life takes you on a different path than you anticipated.  The one that makes you wonder why you are derailed by what seems to be a minor challenge while others seem to not falter when a catastrophe comes their way.  As I was reading in my Bible this morning, I became convinced that this line is not a biblical truth.  I think God often gives more than we can handle.  Why?  So that our desperation drives us straight to Him.

What convinced me of this is Paul’s response to some trials he had recently suffered through.  You can read the details in II Corinthians chapter 1.  Here are the specific verses.

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.

Pretty sure that Paul would have stated that God had given him far more than he thought he could handle.  If you read his list, you can understand why he would have felt overwhelmed.

We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.

These struggles found in II Corinthians 6 is actually Paul’s short list.  If you head down to II Corinthians 11 starting at verse 23, you get even more of a picture of all that Paul had to push through.  Other than occasionally feeling like I have been worked to exhaustion, I cannot really relate to most of his struggles.  My woes fall rather short.

That is the other problem with the phrase.  When we make a mental comparison chart of our trials versus others, two results are bound to happen.  Either we wonder why we cannot seem to handle the minor bumps in the road.  Or we feel a bit superior over the fact that we seem to handle our lot in life better than others do.

I do not know why some seem to have trial after trial sent their way.  I do not know why others, often including myself, are seemingly waltzing through life with hardly any difficulty.  But I do know this.  Every situation, whether big or small, is designed by my Heavenly Father to draw me straight into His arms.  Situations that cause me to rely on God.

In the midst of this book at the end of chapter 4, Paul gives even more reason to have hope.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[a] being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

For me, this fall has continued to show me just how much I need God.  Homeschooling four kids at once has been hard for me.  Really hard.  So much so that I have often questioned if this is really what God has called me to do.  We have had many a prayer of desperation.  While I recognize that this is a minor struggle compared to losing a loved one or persevering through an illness, this situation has still been used accomplish God’s purpose in my life.  To show me just how very much I need God for every breath.  As we begin to celebrate this season of Christmas, I am reminded yet again just how much I need a Savior.

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