Does God Ever Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

SufferingI shared an article on my Facebook wall the other day in which a pastor makes the case that God does give us more than we can handle. I happened to agree with this suffering Christian. However, a friend of mine who loves Jesus and the Catholic Church and knows Scripture took issue with the article.

(Note: you need to have Christians – and by that I mean Jesus-following and Bible-loving folks – who don’t think like you in your life. I joked with my friend, “As iron sharpens iron, so a devout Catholic sharpens an evangelical Protestant.” It’s a joke, but it’s also true.)

The dialogue with my friend helped me get to the bottom of why I agreed with the pastor’s sentiment and what he could have done to be more clear about his statement that God gives us more than we can handle (assuming his intent was to be biblical).

Go read the article for some background if you want. I’ll wait.

While my Catholic friend brought numerous disagreements to the table, his main beef was that, through Christ, we can handle anything (Philippians 4:13), and, if we believe in God’s sovereignty, we are to believe that whatever is happening to us is God’s will (Ephesians 1:11). That fact alone should give us reason to rejoice (Philippians 4:4) and embrace the burden (James 1:2), motivating us to stand up and endure. Not to mention, my friend pointed out, that God loves His people and would not “burden us past our capability”.

(I told you this guy is sharp.)

Clearly, I couldn’t refute my friends thoughts. I agree with his Bible-supported statements, although I could take issue with his assumption about how a loving God would and wouldn’t act, per his last thought. On the whole, my friend’s arguments are right.

And, yet, I still agreed with the bulk of the article stating the (seemingly) exact opposite: God does give us more than we can handle at times.

After some thinking, I realized the discord between my friend’s correct assertions and the author’s correct assertions was due to a lack of clarity on the author’s part.

The author wrote with an unspoken presupposition in mind that made a subtle appearance toward the end of the article but should have been more prominent. Because it wasn’t, my friend jumped on the lack of clarity and assumed the author to be off his biblical rocker.

The major distinction that wasn’t made clear is this: when we operate out of our own strength, what God gives us is often more than we can handle. But when we operate in total dependence on Christ, He will supernaturally enable us to handle anything. 

So, you see, both my friend and the author are right.

We have to get to the end of ourselves – we have to be broken, unable to bear anymore in our own strength – before we learn what it is to fully rely on Christ. God knows this, which is why, I believe, He does allow us to experience more than we can bear IN OUR OWN STRENGTH. We won’t turn to Him if we can bear it all alone.

Because He loves us and out of His desire for us to be drawn into closer, more dependent, and, simultaneously, more powerful relationship with Him, He allows/causes our burdens to accumulate when we aren’t depending on Him enough so we will depend on Him enough. He lets situations become too much so we realize how much He is – enough.

So, per the article’s point, don’t tell someone who is suffering that God won’t give them more than they can bear. Instead, tell them God gives us more than we can bear so we learn how to bear all with Him, and encourage them to use their suffering to, “Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually,” (Psalm 105:4).

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10 thoughts on “Does God Ever Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

  1. Google my name (Les Ferguson, Jr.). Read my story. Check out my blog. I don’t believe you can say it was God’s will. Ephesians 1:11 (in context) says anybody who is saved is predestined to be through Jesus. Just another way of saying what is said in Acts 4:12.

    • Thanks for reading, Les. Not sure what you are referring to when you say, “I don’t believe you can say it was God’s will.” But I do agree Jesus is the only means of salvation.

      • Kelly, sorry to be unclear… I wanted you to google my name and read my story to keep from writing it. In a nutshell, my handicapped son was raped repeatedly by a trusted and loved church member where I preached. After being arrested, he bonded out and came back several months later and murdered him and my wife. My assertion is that cannot be God’s will.

        • Les, I am heart-broken for you and your family. I pray the Lord has and continues to comfort you in the midst of such atrocity. I will read more of your story when I get the chance.

          You probably know better than any of us how you could not handle such a thing without the supernatural power of Christ in you.

          It seems trite to get into the different types of God’s will in your case, as theological discussions are rarely what we need in the midst of such immense grief. Suffice it to say I agree with you God never intended things to go how they went with your family. I believe He is just as grieved as you are, and He will exact justice for this wrong as He sees fit one day.

          May the God of all comfort bless you and keep you.

  2. The author of the article in question is Nate Pyle. I shared this post with him, and here was his response:

    “Thanks for taking the time to read, interact and comment! I read your critique of my article and it is fair. The point that we can only endure all things when we stop relying ourselves could have been more prominent. People who react negatively, and there have been a few!, to the article seem to miss that point, even though I believe I stated it clearly. Thanks!”

  3. […] We should submit to the idea that our anxiety (however we experience it: mild worry, obsessive worry, depression, panic attacks, debilitating anxiety disorders, etc.) is God’s doing (either directly or indirectly); He is in control. He knows what’s best, and, as hard as it is, He has deemed this best for us right now. […]

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