“God won’t give you any more than you can handle.”
You’ve likely heard this often. I know I have. I’ve heard folks say, “You don’t want your children to suffer, do you? Neither does God.” Many believe there is scriptural promise that believers will not suffer.
It may surprise you to hear me say that this well-intended encouragement has always frustrated me. Why? Because history proves otherwise.
I have thought to myself, “define handle.”
We can’t be sure how John the Baptist handled being beheaded, or early Christians handled Nero’s reign of terror (think lions’ dens), or countless other believers, including the disciples and missionaries throughout the ages, handled martyrdom. Let’s not forget the faithful who are currently suffering at the hands of ISIS. I’ll assume all have been offered strength through the power of the Holy Spirit. Such is the nature of grace. But the suffering was and is real nonetheless.
The Scripture quoted with regard to the “won’t give you more than you can handle” statement is:
I Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (emphasis mine)
Notice that the verse says “so that you can stand up under it,” not so that you can be rid of it. God doesn’t promise to remove the difficulty. Of course, He is still in the business of miracles, and I’ve experienced His miraculous intervention more than once, but it is God’s to choose when and if that intervention works into His overall sovereign plan.
I love this verse, not because I think it promises we won’t suffer, but because it points clearly to God’s sovereignty.
I emphasize tempt because I believe it is key to understanding this verse.
Who tempts us? Not God. The deceiver tempts us. Tempts us to what? Sin.
This verse in Corinthians is talking about sin, not circumstances, not the hardships in our lives.
Our circumstances come to us having already been sifted through the fingers of our Creator. There are plenty of passages in Scripture that point to trials and tribulations for the believer and why such challenges are allowed for our refinement or to fulfill a piece of the puzzle in His (incomprehensible) plan.
No, this verse tells us that our Lord has control over Satan. The evil one can only tempt us so far, and when we are tempted to a breaking point, God offers us a way out, so that we don’t sin in our circumstance.
What’s the way out? Grace. To clarify this, I’ll share my own failure in recognizing and accepting God’s way out in my own life.
As a young new believer, I sinned in my circumstance. The loss of my nine-year-old niece and my struggle with chronic pain derailed my faith. I expected the God of miracles to change my circumstances in response to my heartfelt prayers. I expected healing. My faith was genuine and big. Wasn’t He supposed to respond? My God seemed silent.
A wise pastor once said, “Don’t mistake God’s silence for God’s absence.”
God may have seemed silent, but the truth was He was offering me a truckload of amazing grace.
I didn’t want grace. I wanted a change in circumstances, and I wasn’t willing to accept anything else. This stubborn refusal to accept God’s grace sent me into defeat and despair. I chose anger and disbelief. This was spiritual warfare playing out to the satisfaction and delight of the evil one.
Brothers and sisters, don’t assume an easy road lay ahead. It’s not promised in Scripture, and history proves otherwise.
When the storm comes, don’t sin in your circumstance.
Trust in His sovereignty.
Be amazed in grace.
Joy in Jesus,