“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Cor. 10:13
For years we have all heard it. You may have even said it. For a long time I believed it. Friends, I’m here to tell you it’s not biblical. Let’s consider: is it true God will not give you more than you can handle?
Somehow the verse above has been interpreted as something we say to ourselves and others to bolster our resolve when facing challenging circumstances. The problem is two-fold: 1) this is a man-centered approach 2) the Bible never tells us this.
While it may feel good to tell ourselves the Lord will not give us more than we can handle, this verse is speaking specifically about temptation. He will always provide a way of escape when we face the ongoing desire to step into sin. This includes all kinds of temptations from what we consider the “big” things like moral compromise to the temptation to feel complete despair in overwhelming circumstances. The focus here is on Him. He will provide the ability to endure whatever He allows us to face.
Think about it for a minute. When is the last time you have had “more than you can handle?” The Lord does not hesitate to give us way more than we can bear from time to time. How is it that we would ever look to Him if we could just get along on our own with our self-help pep rally?
How sweet it is when we come to realize strength is found in weakness (2 Cor. 12:10). How wonderful to fall on the perfect, sufficient grace of the Lord in desperate times (2 Cor. 12:9). How reassuring to rest in the arms of Jesus where hope is found (Matt. 11:28-30).
Right now I can tell you we are facing circumstances that are without a doubt “more than we can handle.” It’s been crazy. Our house flooded Memorial Day weekend and three months later we are just beginning to rebuild our “torn up house,” as Jack, our 5 year old, likes to call it. It will take at least 4 months before we are back in our home.
We have a precious newly adopted 5 month old who is such a joy and answer to prayer but requires, as all babies do, constant care and attention (translation: we’re a bit tired). We have learned Jack will need a significant surgery to correct issues in his airway, causing him many breathing difficulties. We are scheduled to meet a surgeon in two weeks to discuss the magnitude of the procedure.
I don’t share all of this for you to feel sorry for us (but, hey, we will take the prayers:). This is what I stand on: None of these circumstances are a surprise to our Heavenly Father. Does He expect us to “handle” this or does He long for us to come to Him? Does He want us to muscle through our situation or fall on our knees and let Him prove once again His presence, peace and provision?
We have no resources on our own and if we gaze too long at what we are facing we will become discouraged. Instead we will purpose to do what the wonderfully comforting hymn reminds us,
Turn your eyes upon Jesus;
look full in His wonderful face
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace.
Yes, we have more than we can handle. What a blessed thought to rest in the sufficiency of a perfect God. If you find yourself dismantled by life’s circumstances and unable to cope, cry out to the Lord for help. You can use King David’s words – “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths where there is no foothold.” (Ps. 69:1-2) David knew what it was to be overwhelmed and he also knew where to turn.