Yesterday was the second anniversary of my precious uncle’s passing and I spent some time reflecting on the pain that his death has caused. He was a very loving and godly man who was like a glue in the family.
As I thought about him, family, pain and why bad stuff happen to good people, I also thought about some phrases we pass around in a bid to encourage people. One of such phrases I have heard countless number of times is “God will not give us more than we can handle”. If you’ve been in church for a while, I’m sure you must have heard it too.
This sentence has always bothered me. I struggle with aligning it with the character of God. Yes He made me but He’s also given me the ability to know and feel what I can handle. And some incidences in life, like the death of my uncle, is more than we can handle. I know it.
Sadly, I’ve said this to people too because it felt like a good spiritual quote to give to people who are hurting. Thinking about it now, my heart aches. If you are one of those people I said this to during your time of pain, I’m deeply sorry. I didn’t know any better.
Telling someone who’s lost a parent, a job, a home, a child, someone who’s been given a tough diagnosis or someone whose child has been diagnosed of cancer, that God will not give them more than they can handle feels wrong. Having one of these is bad enough. Consider having multiple events of these. That devastating level of pain is cruel for God to allow us deal with alone. And my knowledge of Him is that He isn’t a cruel God! He is goodness personified!
I had a look in the Bible to see if this phrase is found anywhere. I realised that the scripture this phrase most likely generated from is 1 Corinthians 10:13. It reads;
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT
Other translations use test and trials in place of temptations. I stand to be corrected here. Considering the context in which this Bible verse came about, i believe that it is referring to temptations. Please I suggest you read the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 10.
These words when said to us, never make us feel better. Yes, they may sound like the “churchy” to ears and make us give the amen response. But really they don’t do anything beyond that. They do nothing for our aching and broken hearts because they are not rooted in truth. It’s the truth found in God’s word that sets us free.
A lot of us have been disappointed because we are holding God to a promise He never made to us. God never promised us that He won’t give us more than we can handle. He did promise us that He will never leave nor forsake us.
If He won’t give us more than we can handle, so why do we need to cast our cares on Him? Why do we need His help if we can fix everything ourselves. Why do we need Him to carry us through if we have the ability to go through ourselves.
If you are going through a tough time and you feel you can’t handle it, you’re right. You cannot handle it. You were not made to handle it. God does not expect you to handle it. He knows it’s too much for you to bare and He is inviting you to cast that heaviness on Him so He can help you.
He wants you to come to Him so He can lift that yolk off your shoulders. He wants you to release the grip you have on that issue to Him. He wants you to let go because you can never fix it alone. He wants to show you how to walk through it.
And to be honest, He might not take the pain away in this side of eternity. I’m really sorry to tell you this. We aren’t promised every single miracle. In God’s sovereignty, there are miracles we will experience and there are some we won’t. I know what you’re thinking. I want all my prayers answered too. He does answer but His answers will not always be what we want to hear.
What I’m trying to say is this. Your child might not be healed. You might not get the job if you go for that interview tomorrow. You might be declined that loan again. You might not be cured of cancer. You might not have “manna” fall from heaven tonight. That man might still leave you. That girl might never open her heart to you. But one thing that is certain is that God will be with you and help you go through that fire. You will never walk alone.
So now go ahead. Tell Him that you cannot handle it and let Him take the wheel so He can lead you through.