Last September, my wife Christina and I and our kids were on our way to the airport. It was a sunny day, and we had just passed Costco. We were less than a couple kilometres from the terminal, and then BAM! A car ran through a red light, t-boned the truck on our right, who then slammed into us on their left while trying to swerve away.
A couple of months later, in December, we were on our way to dinner at a Chinese restaurant on Edmonton’s west end. We were less than a couple kilometres away from the restaurant, and then BAM! A car decides to take a left through the intersection while we were right in the middle of it.
A month later, in January, after four months of chiropractor visits and physiotherapy treatment, I got a call from my sister saying that my dad was just diagnosed with prostate cancer.
And if that wasn’t enough, then COVID hit, things started to shut down, and our kids were sent home to finish the school year online. BAM, BAM, BAM…
How Do You Feel When You Hear This?
Has someone ever said to you, “God will never give you more than you can handle?”
Perhaps you were having the kind of year I had, where it was just one thing after another, and someone, who with all the right intentions, tried to reassure you by saying something like, “But you know, God will never give you more than you can handle.”
How did that make you feel?
To be honest, I get why people would say things like, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Because at least they’re not just nodding and staying silent. And at least they’re not pointing things to themselves either. I mean, most people who say statements like that are just trying to be encouraging and hopeful by pointing others to God, right?
So, Is This Phrase Really All That Bad?
I mean, there are worse things that you could say, or people could say to you:
“It was God’s plan.”
“You’ll get over it.”
“It is what it is.”
“You just need to have more faith.”
When Trina was pregnant and going through chemo, someone said to her, “Let go and let God.”
While Andy was grieving the death of his grandfather from COVID-19, someone said to him, “He was old and would have died anyway.”
When Jeremy and his wife learned that their unborn baby wasn’t going to survive, someone said to them that this was “God’s way of telling you that you’re not ready to be parents.”
When Patrice’s husband died of cancer, people said, “You’re young; you’ll find someone else.” When Valerie’s only child Jesse, committed suicide at age 30, a friend said to her, “I know exactly how you feel, because my dog just died.”
Compared to those real comments, is the phrase “God will never give you more than you can handle” all that bad? Maybe not, but is that really the right question? Perhaps instead, we should be asking whether or not that phrase is true and whether or not God really said that.
It’s In The Bible – Isn’t It?
While I’m not quite sure who coined this phrase, I do know that it’s a misquote and a miserable misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 in the Bible.
“God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able” (1 Corinthians 10:13 CSB).
Do you see the resemblance between this verse and the phrase? God is faithful, he is with you, and he won’t give you more than you can handle, right?
While this verse does say that God is faithful and that he is with us, it doesn’t say that he’ll never give us more than we can handle. It says that we won’t be tempted beyond what we are able, and then later on in the verse, it goes on to say that “with the temptation [God] will also provide the way out so that you may be able to bear it.” But it doesn’t say that God will never give us more than we can handle.
Here Is The Truth
Following Jesus and living a life free from idols and the entanglements of this world is not a guarantee to a pain-free life. He never promised us a life without suffering, trial, or temptations. In fact, this verse here is saying the opposite. It’s saying that there will always be suffering, trial, temptations, pain, and situations that we won’t be able to handle on our own.
But when suffering and trials come — not if, but when — as followers of Christ, God promises to always be with us because he is faithful.