Q: #477. The Bible says, "God won't give you more than you can handle," right?
By: Steve Shirley
A: It is commonly believed that the Bible says, "God won't give you more than you can handle," however, the Bible never actually says this. This belief is primarily a mistranslation of (1 Cor 10:13) which says, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
If you look closely at what this verse says, you can see that God is not saying He won't give you more than you can handle, but instead, this verse is talking about "temptation," and that God won't allow you to be TEMPTED beyond what you can endure. Many times, temptation precedes sin, however, temptation itself is not sin. We know this because Jesus was tempted (Mk 1:13)(Lk 4:1-13), but yet was without sin (Heb 4:15). When we give into temptation, and act upon it, it becomes sin (James 1:12-15). BUT, God tells us in (1 Cor 10:13) that when we are tempted, He ALWAYS provides a way out. In other words, God will never allow a Christian to be placed in a situation where our "only" option is to sin. We always have a way "to escape" (but we don't always take it).
So, is there any other place in the Bible which says that God won't give us more than we can handle? Nope! In fact, the opposite is true. The Bible is filled with places showing that God DOES give us more than we can handle! Perhaps the best verses in regards to this are found in (2 Cor 1:8-9). Look at what Paul says here, "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. (9) Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death..." (NIV). Paul says the "hardships" they faced were "beyond our ability to endure." In fact, they were so bad, they believed they were going to die!
Look at two things Jesus (in His humanity) said while on Earth.
(Mt 26:37-38)(NASB) And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. (38) Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."
(Mt 27:46): About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Do these words of Jesus sound like He was overwhelmed?
What about Job in the midst of his trials? What about Daniel when he was thrown into a den of lions (Dan 6:10-24). What about Jonah when he spent 3 days and nights in the belly of a great fish (Jon 1:17)? And, there are so many more examples... Don't you think these men were facing trials that were more than they could handle? Of course! So, why does God allow these things to happen? The reason is simple, and clear in Scripture: God allows us to face trials bigger than we can handle so that we will come to Him, and rely on Him. While the trial or trials we face may be too big for "us," there is NO trial too big for God to handle.
Scripture confirms this. Going back to Paul, when we continue in (2 Cor 1:9), Paul explains the reason for the "hardships," saying they came "so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God." He continues in verse 11, giving credit to God for delivering them. When Jesus was overwhelmed with what was coming, He "fell on His face and prayed" to the Father (Mt 26:39). From the belly of the fish, Jonah "cried unto the Lord" and "He answered" (Jon 2:1-10).
Look at what Paul says in (2 Cor 12:7-10) after he was given a "thorn in the flesh:" "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
Paul was overwhelmed by this "thorn in the flesh" (I discuss what this was this here), and asked God to remove it 3 times. However, he was told by God "my grace is sufficient for thee." God's grace would carry him through his trial. Therefore, Paul rejoiced. As difficult as this is, the Bible tells each of us that we should do the same.
There will be times in every person's life when they will have more than they can handle. These are times when we need to turn to God, and His strength. Times when we need to allow God to carry us. This is why He allows the trials. He has given Christians many promises in regards to this. Here are a few to trust in when trials become too much:
(Jn 16:33) In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
(Isa 40:29) He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
(Rom 8:37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
(Ps 46:1) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.