Will God give you more than you can handle? There are certain phrases in Christianity that are known as “Pastorisms”. A pastorism is a saying that conveys a simplified version of a theological point that may or may not be precisely sound. The phrase “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is one of these pastorisms.
We all understand God is in control of events that happen in our lives. But what happens when things go wrong? How do we make sense of the feeling that God has abandoned us?
There are times when we feel overwhelmed. And when that happens, other well-meaning Christians will assure us that God won’t give us more than we can handle. But is this true?
I think there are two things that need to be addressed with this question. The first is the answer to the question posed. The second is whether the saying provides a measure of comfort for those who are experiencing suffering.
Will God give you more than you can handle? The short answer is “Yes, He will”. That may seem like a shocking statement. But we need to understand all of God’s nature when we discuss what He will or will not do.
God will allow suffering into our lives. The overwhelming majority of suffering we face is the result of either our own poor decisions or the sinful nature of other people. There are also natural evils like sickness and natural disasters that cause suffering as well.
Note that in all the examples above, the suffering is not a result of God directly causing difficulties for us. God is allowing suffering into our lives, but not causing the suffering. This is an important distinction. I think sometimes when people ask if God will give us more than we can handle, they mistakenly lay the blame for suffering at God’s feet. But this is not usually the case as we see in the examples above.
Why Would God Allow More Suffering Than We Can Handle?
Why would a loving God allow more suffering into our lives than we can bear? This is always a difficult question to answer. We don’t know the mind of God in any specific set of circumstances. But we can look at examples of how God has worked in scripture to better understand how He works.
God can let us suffer the consequences of our actions to teach us lessons. If you are a parent, you understand this concept. We will sometimes allow our children to suffer consequences, so they do not make a bigger mistake in the future.
God often uses suffering to draw us closer to Him. This is perhaps the most common reason God allows suffering into our lives. When we feel overwhelmed, we rely more on God. We cannot always handle what is before us, but God can.
Is This Helpful?
Lastly, we should look at whether this is helpful to say to someone who is experiencing suffering. I think Christians often say this to try and give hope to people when they don’t know what else to say. So, I tend to have sympathy for those who use this phrase, even though I disagree with its use.
I prefer to say something like “Yes, this can all feel overwhelming. But I am here for you, and God is here for you. And with God, all things are possible. We will both help you get through this”. This has the benefit of acknowledging that the person feels overwhelmed, while still offering hope. Both you and God will be there for them.
We should be aware that God is also giving us a chance to show empathy and compassion to our friends in need as well. God may be giving your friend more than they can handle, so take it upon yourself to make sure they are not going through this alone!
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