“Well, I know the Bible says that God never gives us more than we can handle.”
I have heard it so many times, often after a brother or sister is sharing the heaviness of a current season of grief, uncertainty, or pain. There’s a moment of vulnerability, of crying out, of neediness, and then you see the change. A deep breath, a determined look, a set jaw, and the declaration of this truth… God never gives us more than we can handle.
But what if this isn’t the truth?
I believe the verse that is referenced with this statement is 1 Corinthians 10:13…
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
When I read this, I do not see a claim that God will not give me more than I can handle. Rather, I see the hope-giving promise that He will provide an escape route in the face of temptation. Thank you Jesus!
But what about the losses, turmoil and trials of our lives, the seasons of suffering? What is our promise there? That we can handle it?
When I hear this misquote from scripture, that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, I grieve. What I hear in this false declaration is a self-directed message to that child inside: suck it up, pull yourself together; the Bible says you should be able to handle this, so handle it. I recognize it because I have spoken this very thing to myself.
But the beauty of our relationship with Jesus is that He knows this life brings us far more than we can handle. Not only I am unable to handle the pain and suffering of my life, I am also unable to handle the good things. I cannot handle marriage, parenting, friendship, or ministry. God has given me much, both gifts and refinement, that I cannot handle.
Here is our hope. There is One who is ready to handle it for us. To carry the weight of our life, to bear our burdens.
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…” Isaiah 53:4
Beloved, the truth is, life is more than you or I can handle. This is why we need Jesus. He handles it on our behalf. Even in the good things, we must remember that we no longer live, but Christ lives in us in our marriages and families, in our ministries and jobs, in every facet of our lives (Galatians 2:20).
So if you find yourself in season where life threatens to swallow you up, remember that your hope is not that you can indeed handle it but in the One who carries both you and your sorrow.