Does God Give You More Than You Can Handle?

This is another in the occasional series of posts responding to faith questions people wrote early last fall:

overflowing-cupThe question:  “It is promised in the Bible that we will not be given more than we can bear…what about the family that loses three daughters and others?  How can the family deal with untold grief?  How can they breathe?”

This is a great question.  Thank you for sharing it!

I hear this phrase quoted a lot…the one where God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  It is a common misconception that this is a Biblical phrase.  It’s not.  This phrase doesn’t actually appear anywhere in the Bible. Nope.  It’s not in there.

There is a verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says “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”  But this piece of scripture is specifically talking about temptation, not suffering or pain. No where in the scriptures does it say that God will protect us from being or feeling overwhelmed with the problems of life.

There are a couple of observations I’d like to make about your question, however:

While God doesn’t promise that we won’t feel overwhelmed, God does promise that even in the midst of feeling overwhelmed, in the midst of life feeling chaotic, in the midst of feeling like you’re just hanging on by the tips of your fingers, God is there.  God is with you.  God is holding on to you even when you feel the most alone.  And God doesn’t let go.  Joshua 1:9 is one of my “go to” verses when I’m feeling like the water is up over my head:  “Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged…for I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go.”

Clearly, however, there is a more specific situation that you are thinking about when you ask this question.  There has been a tragedy, a loss, somewhere in your life.  Please know that when I read your note, my heart became heavy.  Clearly there is grief.

I don’t have words of explanation.  Things happen that none of us can understand or explain.  I wish we could.  Really, I do.  So my 2 words of advice to you, and to all who suffer in this situation, would be:

  1. Cling to these promises of God.  You are not abandoned or alone.  And I really believe that God grieves with you.  I don’t believe that accidents or tragedies like this are a part of God’s plan, and God grieves the loss of the potential for what those lives could have done here on earth.  God is with you, and wants to bring hope and healing.
  2. Talk to those who God puts in your life to support you.  There are people here who are willing to accompany you in this journey.  I’m one of them.  So is Pastor Dean, and the rest of our staff.  Don’t be afraid to just say “hey, can we talk sometime?” and to open up the conversation.  This is one of the ways that God brings about healing.

When tragedy strikes, the rest of us continue on in our lives, even when it feels overwhelming.  We do this because we live in the promises of God.  It’s not always easy, but we can rely on God and on God’s people to walk with us in the worst of it.

Please call, if we can be of help.

Blessings,
Pastor Todd

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