In a recent Facebook comment I was told by a friend (one who was only trying to encourage me) that “God will not put more on you than you can handle.” This was in reference to one more in a long list of “trials” we have had to endure, and in this case it was the issue with our van’s transmission failing.
Then, right after that, another friend tried to help by saying: “Not true. But the word says, you shall have what you say.”
With these two well-meaning comments I was faced with a conundrum: Should I let them stand or challenge them? Like I said, I know they were well-meaning, but they must be evaluated in the light of Scripture.
Let’s begin with the first…
“God will not put more on you than you can handle.”
Where, exactly, does that statement come from? Well the basis of it is found Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. There, in chapter 10, he was discussing the way the children of Israel had been rebellious in their discontent and had angered God in the wilderness. Paul wrote:
Nevertheless God was not pleased with most of them, since they were struck down in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, so that we will not desire evil things as they did. Don’t become idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to party. Let us not commit sexual immorality as some of them did, and in a single day twenty-three thousand people died. Let us not test Christ as some of them did and were destroyed by snakes. And don’t complain as some of them did, and were killed by the destroyer. – 1 Corinthians 10:5-10 CSB
The time in the wilderness was a time of trial, of testing, of proving. The wandering Hebrews were never tempted by God to sin, but were very often tested to prove their trust in the One who brought them out of captivity. Would they trust Him to provide?
Unfortunately, most of the time they did not trust God, but complained at every turn. They doubted God’s provision, even though time after time He miraculously provided for their needs (water, manna, clothes and shoes that never wore out, etc.). They “tempted,” or “tested” God – they wanted to put Him to the test to “prove” His faithfulness, as if He had not already done so!
Even worse, they blamed God for their rebellion and idolatry! They would say that is was only because God had led them into the wilderness to die of hunger or thirst that they were forced to fornicate and create their own false gods.
And it was the very judgment of God on the children of Israel when they tested God that Paul points to when he warns the Corinthians not to test or tempt Christ. He said:
These things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our instruction… – 1 Corinthians 10:11a CSB
Therefore, when we get to 1 Corinthians 10:13, what we find is the reassurance, along with a warning, that God will certainly test, or prove us, and just like the children of Israel, there will be a “way of escape,” i.e., an option to put one’s faith in God/Christ to provide as opposed to turning to idols.
No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 CSB
So then, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. – 1 Corinthians 10:14 CSB
So how does all the things my family and I have been going through relate to all of this? Has God put more on us than we can handle? Well, honestly, no…not unless we are unwilling to take the “way of escape” He has provided.
If we choose to lose faith, question God’s goodness and provision… If we start to murmur and complain… If I start with all the “Why God? Whyyyy???”… If I start trotting off after other “gods” to meet my immediate needs… then I choose to allow the “temptation” to be more than I’m able to bear by not accepting God’s provision.
But to take things one step further, let me repeat what I wrote in the comments on Facebook:
“For the record, I do believe that God will allow us to experience more than we can handle (on our own)…otherwise, we wouldn’t need Him.”
I’ll address the next point – “But the word says, you shall have what you say” – in the next post.