More Than We Can Handle

“God won’t give you more than you can handle” is a popular phrase that I’ve heard a lot in Christian circles. Sometimes it’s almost used as a joke. “God won’t give me more than I can handle, but He sure does trust me a lot.”

The truth is, that’s not what scripture says, and it can actually give a false sense of God and His character.

What scripture does say is that God will not allow us to be tempted more than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). It doesn’t say that God gives us temptations, but that He won’t let the temptations become too much for us. There’s a large difference between God giving us something and God protecting us from something. James 1:13 is very clear on this subject: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one.”

Going back to the phrase “God won’t give us more than we can handle”, the idea that hard times are given to us by God can be damaging and makes it sound like He is the one who is causing our pain and our grief. It’s easy to look at Job in scripture and see someone who was given more than any one man should be able to handle, but it is also clear that God was not the one who gave him those tests and trials. Instead, when satan came against Job, God limited satan in what he was allowed to do (Job 1:12). Today, we have even more of God’s protection. The enemy can no longer come before God and accuse us because Jesus Himself is our advocate. 1 John 5:8 says that because Jesus holds us securely, the evil one cannot touch us.

Additionally, the idea of “more than we can handle” points to an unfair and unjust system, which is the opposite of God’s character (Job 34:12). Why should Person A be given more hardships just for being stronger than Person B?

Ultimately, it’s not about what we can handle. In fact, I would say we are often given more than we can handle. No parent should ever have to go through the pain of losing their child. No child should ever bear the weight of abuse. No person should ever feel the need to contemplate whether or not their existence matters.

In 2 Corinthians 2:8-9, Paul wrote to the church, “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” Those are certainly not the words of someone who felt like they had a handle on the things happening around them. He continued, “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

We were not built or equipped to handle everything the world throws at us; that’s why we needed a Savior. It’s not about what we can handle, but what He can handle.

A more accurate phrase for Christians to use is, “We can never be given more than He can handle.” There is no burden too large or too small for our God. There is nothing the enemy can attack us with that we can’t surrender to the one who is abundant in power and love for us.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

15 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    Great post, and great truth! This weekend I came home to a flooded room, the dog ate my daughter’s retainer, and we received bad news in the mail. All the night before company was to arrive. I asked God, “Why”? He clearly reminded me that He sent people to help out, showing me His care. He never gives us more than we can handle, and leaves us alone. He always knows when we need his help and care, and like you said, He handles it! Thank Goodness! 🙂

  2. Ashleigh Rich

    I’ve always hated that phrase. You’re right, it makes it seem like a punishment to be strong, but it can also make people who are in a good season of life or who haven’t walked through something terrible lately feel like they must be so weak they need to be super protected by God.

  3. Amy @ Orison Orchards

    God knows better what we can handle than we do ourselves. We might think, at times, that He has given us too much, when in reality He has given us just what we need to refine and perfect us so that we can better serve Him.

  4. Southern Simple Blessed

    Love it!! The Lord showed me one time, we put on ourselves more than we can handle, not him. Sometimes we allow others or ourselves to put things on us that God never meant for us. But yes, he does help us get through IF we rely on him. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Lindsey | Loving the Wounded Child

    Yes!! This is so true. Thanks for writing about it! I can’t even count the number of times people said this to me when I was in some of the darkest years of my life and it made me SO CONFUSED! It took me a while to realize why that statement is so inaccurate… and you hit the nail on the head.

  6. Beth

    This post is right on the money! What we consider to be too much may be God’s way of opening our eyes to Him and His plan for us. He is always in control, even when it seems that life is out of control.

  7. Kristin Cook

    I agree with you. That phrase always puts humans first, making it seem as if WE are the one’s who are strong enough to overcome. But the bible is clear- WE are not strong enough, but God sure is.
    And when we are tempted or going through something unbelievably tough, we have to remember that God is sovereign, and what man means for evil, God means for good.

  8. AmyTerry

    Wow, these are great thoughts to a catch phrase that isn’t even true! When we depend on Him, we see we are stretched beyond what is possible for the Kingsom without Him.

  9. christartist

    Oh my…. This is one of those mind blowing moments… True as true can be… And clarifies something I I have tried to figure out my whole life! Satan has to get permission, but Satan is the one that is our enemy! And God is my comfort and strength! Christ is my advocate. And in God’s presence is joy that is my strength! The name of the Lord is a strong tower and the righteous run into it and are safe!

  10. Sincerely Nicki

    This was such a great write up. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve pinned it as well. So many Christians are going through life with this very mindset you have described and as a result they are mad with God. I’ve heard that saying so much. I’ve even used a few times in the past myself. But I know better now.

Leave a Reply