“God will never give you more than you can handle.” Have you ever heard that? I think it is often said by very well-meaning people in the church. They are trying to help and be a comfort to someone going through a hard time. But is it true? For a long time, I thought this was actually from the Bible. Did you know it isn’t? It’s not. Nowhere does it say that you’ll never get more than you can handle. That phrase makes me struggle. I struggle with the “why” questions. Why would God put me through this? Why is there so much to handle? Why is this happening to me?
Much of what happens in our lives is the consequence of sin. Some things, we do to ourselves. Some things happen because of the sin of others. God isn’t doing these things TO us. He has given us the chance to make our own choices, and our choices ripple out into the world.
Let me ask you a question. Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Like there’s just too much? We can handle a lot. There are many things that we have to handle every day. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed. To try to carry more than you can handle on your own.
So often, we feel as though we can’t ask for help. That we have to be strong enough to handle anything life throws at us. That, if we had enough faith, we could handle anything. Society teaches us that needing help shows weakness, and we have to be strong. God has something very different to say about weakness.
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. At this time, the church was a mess. People were making horrible choices. Bad stuff was happening. God still had this to say to Paul and the church.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
God says His power is made perfect in our weakness. That we should boast about our weaknesses, not hide them. When we are too weak, we have access to God’s great power. It is ok to feel overwhelmed. It is ok to ask for help. One way to do this is to build a community around yourself of friends and strong believers. Who do you have around you that builds you up?
Paul and Timothy experienced being overwhelmed. In 2 Corinthians 1: 8-10, Paul writes this:
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
Paul says the pressure was far beyond their ability to endure. They had been given far more than they could handle. Did Paul ask the question “why did God do this to me?” No. He says “this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” We aren’t expected to handle things on our own. We can rely on God. The God who is powerful enough to raise the dead has our backs. We can depend on Him to deliver us .
The summer before 6th grade, my parents divorced. They did it while I was away at camp. When I came home, my mom had moved out. I was crushed. My whole world caved in on me. It was more than I could bear. I wanted to hide it, to handle it all on my own. My best friend found out before I did. More crushing. I felt like there was no one for me to turn to. I remember one night calling out to God. I felt his presence in the room. I felt him holding my hand as I finally fell asleep. His strength found me in my weakness. He held me up when I couldn’t stand on my own.
As I began to give things back to God, my burden became lighter. I still had the same things to deal with, but I wasn’t carrying it all on my own. God wants to share our burden. He also puts people into our lives to walk alongside us. Find someone in your life that you can talk to. Share each others’ stress.
In your life, you will absolutely face far more than you can handle. You can’t handle it all, but God can. Ask for help. And lean into the God who loved you enough to die for you.