Recently, I have been going through a rough time in my life; my family has moved across the country. This change, although expected and awaited, has been tougher than I could have initially imagined. Throughout this hard time, I have had more than one person tell me a phrase that I find to be completely false:
“Danielle, God will not give you more than you can handle.”
The “God will not give you more than you can handle” phrase often sounds more like a taunt than a comfort, and when coming from the people that we love and rely on, it can really make us feel discouraged. Personally, when I am most down and struggling with life, this tends to cause me to feel like I am not measuring up to God’s plan. It causes me to ask, “If I am supposed to handle this, then why can’t I handle it?” This probably sounds like a harsh claim. I probably sound like a bitter woman who resents the world and God Himself, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. And actually, when I realized the simple fact that God can – and will – give us more than we can possibly bear, it got easier. Life started to make more sense, and I was able to rely on God in ways that I never thought I could.
I have been through many trials and tribulations in my life that have been too much for me to handle on my own. Ever since my childhood and the struggles I went through from a very young age all the way up to now, there have been trials that have made me “grow up” pretty fast. I became a more mature person because of what I went through, and none of my struggles are events that I resent the Lord for. They have made me stronger, and each one has truly made me into the person I am today.
This misquoted verse dates back about 2,000 to the church of Corinth where the Apostle Paul wrote letters to the Corinthians. In Paul’s first letter, he reminds the Corinthians that all people are tempted by sin and often make the wrong choice, leading them away from Christ. Paul gives this warning to the people of the city, and also gives a promise of faith. Turning to scripture and research to find the roots of the quote thrown out by many Christians, I found the source of the matter. The verse reads: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And 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.” –1 Corinthians 10:13. This is the verse that is so often misquoted. With regard to temptation and sin, Paul pointed out that we always have a choice: engage in sin or run from it. The promise is that God will always provide a way for us to run from it.
Paul was referring to temptation, not suffering, and these terms are very different in the biblical sense. With temptation, we have a choice, but with suffering we often don’t have a choice. Temptation is a worldly choice to decide not to follow Christ, to make choices that do not align with the Bible, and to go against the ethics, morals, and values of religion. Suffering is the after effect of a traumatic life event, which is a normal human reaction to pain and trials.
So many people in this world are drowning in sadness. So many people are angry with the world, overwhelmed with the tasks of life, taunted by tasks from their family, their job, their organization, or their volunteer group that are just unachievable for one person. People are dying every single day, from hundreds of terminal illnesses, leaving behind their families and loved ones to go through this type of suffering. I’ve come to learn – slowly but surely – why I need Him. Throughout my life, I have tried to carry the weight of my own cross, going through struggles alone. This in turn leads me to failure by not allowing God into my life to help me go through my suffering. In turn, I truly believe this is the original reason for my diagnosis of anxiety. Maybe it is because of my pride and the idea that I should just be able to do things on my own, be strong, and stand up and not be defeated. Giving over my cross, my struggles, and my personal situations to God and allowing Him to bear the weight of the pain in turn led me to be able to breathe, and continue onto the next life trial. This is why Jesus came down to Earth; to bear the weight of our sins, and to carry our crosses because He is much mightier than us. Some things that happen to us in life cannot be fixed, but they can be carried, by Him and Him alone.
The truth of the situation at hand is that the world gives us more than we can handle, and we have God to help us through these times, proving to us that we never have to go through anything alone in life. I can admit that I didn’t know what needing God really meant until I had no other choice. I didn’t know what needing God meant until I had to give Him my pain so I wouldn’t fall apart. I didn’t know what needing God meant until my life was almost at its absolute end. I didn’t know what needing God meant until I did it for the first time; giving over my pain and my heart to Him, and watching how my life was transformed. Through the pain of Earthly life, my trials and suffering taught me that God is not just a want or a convenient symbol of love or a reason to do good deeds, but the very air we breathe, and the only one who can make life bearable when everything going on is simply anything but just that.
When we become aware that life will give us more than we can handle and come to grips with this, we find a promise: God is faithful to meet us in the mess and in the pain. So don’t let anyone tell you that God will not give you more than you can handle. Instead, know that the world gives us more than God ever intended, but His love and grace for us is what will keep our heads above the water.