Have you ever heard the “Bible verse” God will never give you more than you can handle? It’s amazing to me in my years of ministry how often someone quotes this “verse” in regards to their situation (they’ve been taught this), then looks at me perplexed with beat up, broken down, “way more than they can handle” eyes. Now God must be a liar or they are more screwed up than they originally thought…
Not knowing what the Bible says and doesn’t say will really end up biting us. Bible teachers who teach people God will never give them more than they can handle are not only teaching an unbiblical message, they are setting people up for disaster.
The truth is, this phrase is simply not in the Bible. Whether it’s deliberate or accidental confusion, the end result is the same. The false teaching springs from 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. Basically when we sin, we can’t say God made us do it and when we are tempted we can be encouraged that He always provides a way out. Temptation to sin is waaay different than the hard things in life that are more than we can handle.
I suffer from depression, and it’s more than I can handle.
I started a church, and it’s been waaay more than I can handle.
Parenting two young children is often more than I can handle! (Especially when my wife is gone for the day!)
Talk to someone struggling with suicide about if they’ve been given more than they can handle.
Talk to someone who was just diagnosed with cancer if they’ve been given more than they can handle.
Ask a parent who is at their own child’s funeral if they’ve been given more than they can handle.
Yet none of these situations are sins, or even necessarily a result of a person’s sin.
They are simply life in this broken world. A world Jesus describes in John 16:33b…In this world you will have trouble.
The irony of this is that the first step of our salvation is admitting to God that we’ve been given more than we can handle! Our faith begins by admitting to God: “I am a sinner who cannot save myself. My sins are more than I can handle. My broken state is more than I can handle. Please rescue me, Jesus!”
You ever try to get a prideful person to go to counseling? It could be someone struggling with depression, struggling in their marriage or just downright struggling. A prideful person will never go to counseling, why? Because in their mind they can handle it.
They don’t need help.
They don’t need to admit their weakness.
Do these sound like godly or admirable qualities? Of course not.
James 4:6 tells us “God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
1 Corinthians 12:9 says, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
These are very different messages than trying to think you can handle everything yourself. We aren’t built to walk this path alone. It’s why God gave us other Christians! It’s why He gave us the Church! It’s why he gave us his Son and his Spirit!
Our world is a world full of death. In this overwhelming world, we will often be given way more than we can handle. Don’t let this cause you to give up on God or wonder if He’s turned his back on you, allow it rush you toward God’s strength, sufficiency, truth, love and presence. Allow your weakness to make plenty of room for God’s strength.
A strong person who can save themselves doesn’t need a strong God who longs to love and rescue his children.
A weak person does.
Celebrate God’s strength.
Oh yeah, the rest of John 16:33 reads: (Jesus speaking) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Thanks Noah for clarifying this. John 16:33 is my favorite verse in Scripture and has held me up many times. Just knowing that He has overcome brings such peace and blessings when adversity comes along (not easy but peace).
Noah Filipiak says
Thanks Mom; great point. I also love John 16:33–it applies to so many tough situations
Jim Bender says
Exactly. This one drives me crazy, too.
Glad for times when things go well but find God means to lead into things that are more than I can handle. Not the tough times from the dumb/wrong things I’ve done. . . it’s the difficult people and situations that get faced when following Jesus. Used to think it was something I did wrong but now believe God means it for growing and becoming like Jesus. Get that from Paul who wrote about being burdened beyond what he could bear, despairing of
life and feeling under a sentence of death. But he says that the point was to make him rely on God and not on himself. . . that he set all his hope on God to deliver him. Believing that God means to make that utterness for him a reality within, and it takes hard things to make that happen.
Hard in the middle of things when God is silent sometimes. . . seems like a whirlpool and the thought/despair comes that God is thru with me. Find release when acting faith and looking to Jesus and away from me. Strange thing is when the tough times pass and God has brought thru that I’m hungry/desperate for more of Christ. Need the reality. . . when faith used to just be book faith thought that Christians were supposed to take everything in stride but finding the reality of following Jesus is often painful not polite. And that’s ok. . . read in Hebrews “in the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son he learned obedience thru what he suffered. And being made perfect. . . ” What’s not worth going thru to be more like Christ. . . give me desperate over polite.
Gotta give you props man for talking about being depressed. . . didn’t know and couldn’t tell from what you write or listening to your messages. Truth builds up. . . thanks for sharing. BTW you gotta put up your newer messages. . . me want food. . . me want food. . . 🙂
Typed without knowing the rest. . . checked out other posts tagged depression and insecurity and turns out you write a lot about it. New to your blog, came here thru Jim Decke posts and listened to messages on the Holy Spirit and things there came thru as rock solid.
There with you man. . . hate struggling with insecurity but just seems the reality of things apart from Christ. Take those struggles as lessons on the way but hate being in the pit/whirlpool. Faith’s saying that if there’s a pit there’s a deliverer. Not totally there yet but spending less time trying to figure out the pit and more having my heart lay hold of Jesus and being alive in Christ. In Christ all the doubts and fears and questions that come from and drive me to being self-centered don’t come up. . . in Christ they’re just not there.
In the depths heart’s desire is to be like Christ and not sure why the answer often is that everything’s a weight, but everyday need to know the power of his resurrection in a living way, the reality of it. Finding the further I go with Jesus, the more unsure I am of myself and the only thing that makes any difference is the reality of Christ being present in a living way. Even knowing that and having tasted it, still struggle and get restless for him to be 24/7/365 present. Thinking the struggles are grace from God to knowing and receiving that he’s already there. . . that it’s all true.
Hey man, have a good Easter. Praying God grant you grace in Christ to be bold. . . that the power and presence of God will be there.
Yes, this actual phrase is definitely created by man, not God, and is used by counselors everywhere as a tool to help people get out of hard times. They surely mean well, but it can also be be very damaging at times.
Throughout my life, I have had exactly 12 people (friends/loved ones} who, through no fault of their own, were thrown into the most deep, dark, hellish depressions. Their complete and total mental collapses came with the most extreme price. They all quietly, secretly, took their own lives. I was devastated EVERY time, and reminded every time, that this phrase gives people a false hope that God will never let it get that far. Counselors should use great care when using this tool, as these words are NOT God’s words.
Noah Filipiak says
Thanks for sharing Mike. Man that is so sad about your loved ones, my heart breaks for you!
Thank you so much, Noah.