If you spend much time around Christians, whether it’s in person or on the interwebs, you would know that being a Christian doesn’t mean your life is easy. It can be downright difficult, even for a Christian. Bad circumstances happen, and sometimes bad things come in bunches. You probably also know the old saying, “…but I know everything will be okay, because God never gives us more than we can handle.” Whether you know the saying or not, you should totally disregard it. Even if you just read it for the first time, and you thought, “Hey, I like that, and it’s so comforting to know,” you should still fogettaboudit, because it’s not true. Does it have a Biblical basis? Kind of, but it’s a verse that’s misquoted, and I’m writing about it. Of course, I think God provides the grace necessary to get through any situation, but that seems to happen when we find ourselves in a situation that we cannot handle. So He handles it.
So where does this phrase come from? It’s loosely based on 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” When we say that God won’t give us more than we can handle, it is only a half truth. First of all, in the case of temptation, God doesn’t give us temptation. He allows it, but He does not give it. Secondly, this verse has nothing to do with life’s many circumstances that we have to handle.
Case and point: Job. Read the entire book of Job and get back to me on whether God will give you more than you can handle. Did Job handle his situation well? Spiritually, most of the time, but otherwise, he was a bit of a mess. He sat in ashes and mourning scraping puss from his arms. He got mad at God there for a second, didn’t he? He cracked under the pressure, because he couldn’t handle it. By the end of the book, life was resolved, but he wasn’t handling his business throughout the whole story.
What God does offer is sufficient grace for the worst of circumstances. We cannot handle everything we encounter, because we are weak. Thank God, He is strong and His strength is made more obvious in our weakness. There have been times in my life that I was ready to quit, because I couldn’t handle my circumstances. After some battling, I let God take over. Guess what! He didn’t fix everything. He just kept me from being consumed by it. You see, God’s “handling it” doesn’t always mean He fixes whatever you’re going through. In 2 Corinthians 12, the chapter where “My grace is sufficient” comes from, Paul asked God three times to fix an area of his life. God said, “No, but I’ll help you get through it.”
Do not lose heart when you go through the hardest of trials. Do not lose faith when God doesn’t just fix it, despite your earnest pleading with Him. Learn contentment in all circumstances, just as Paul talked about in Philippians 4. I’m saying this as someone who’s still trying to get there. I’m not claiming to have mastered my attitude, but I’m hoping I can parrot Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10 at some point:
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”