I sat across from a woman with dark eyes that told her dark story. As her hands wrapped around her cup of coffee, her eyes became pools of pain and I had to look away. She didn’t speak a word of English, but the translator didn’t need to tell me that she had suffered in this life and now carried the weight of the world. I could feel the heaviness.
A missionary arranged our unlikely meeting–me, a mom and writer–she, a middle eastern woman who had escaped oppression. We were joined together by the desire to help women in her country.
As I listened to the violence she had endured, I couldn’t help but think of the saying I grew up believing, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
I’ve heard the words my entire life.
I may have even said them a time or two.
And I’ve believed a lie.
They sound ridiculous to a mom who has buried her child and to a teen girl who has traded sex for food and to the woman who sat before me who could be killed because she follows Jesus.
Because that’s more than anyone can handle.
The words aren’t even Biblical. Actually, the Bible promises us hardship in this life and tells story after story of suffering.
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Cor 1:8,9).
If that doesn’t speak of despair and being thrown more than can be handled, I don’t know what does. We are promised tribulation and persecution in this life. We might even die (or feel like it).
Yes, sometimes we are given more than we can handle. But all the time, we have One who can handle anything.
If we could handle all the grief, pain, suffering, poverty, financial woes, parenting struggles, gut-wrenching hard times in life, we wouldn’t need Jesus.
But He is made strong in our weakness. John 16:33 “…In Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
And He has already endured every sorrow we may carry.
The purpose of our pain is to make us rely on God, so that His great power is made evident in our weakness–when we can’t handle another thing.
When we are able to continue and survive with peace in the midst of tribulation, others won’t see us. They will see Him.
“Not once have I danced around our house shouting, “Yeah suffering!” Instead, in the midst of pain and hurt, I am actively expecting God to do something. I don’t know what. I don’t know when. But I am expecting the God of resurrection to heal us. I am expecting God to restore us. I am expecting him to redeem this situation. I am expecting him to do this and so I will be actively looking and waiting for him to do something. I believe expectant waiting can only happen when we exchange our feeble platitudes for an authentic faith that engages God with the full brunt of our emotion and pain. Only then can salvation been seen.” –Nate Pyle
So, today as you look in the face of a friend or in the mirror and need more Jesus, see that He is right there with you. And from now on instead of saying “you can bear this,” I’m going to say, “as you bear this, you aren’t alone.” And somehow, someway He makes things good.
Because that’s the truth we are promised.
Written by Kristen Welch, We are THAT familyLeave a Comment
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
Amen, Kristen!! So many time when people have said, “God won’t give you any more than you can handle,” without being rude I’ve wanted to correct them…or scream…or both. I like your response and will tuck that away in the back of my mind because this world is often more than we can handle, but fortunately we have a God who is more than able. He wants us to lean into His strength and protection when the storms swirl. Thank you for a post this morning that was right on target!
Carol Chodakauskas says
Hi Kristen! This is awesome reading! I have always believed God will only gives us what he can handle, but really he gives us more than we can handle because that causes us to rely on HIm! Thanks so much for this revelation. I, too will keep this close at heart and share with my children (daughter 29, son 28) who are going through some tough trials right now, due to bad choices. Thanks so much for encourage.me. I look forward to these emails every day!
Jenni DeWitt says
Yes Bev! When my son was first diagnosed with cancer, if someone dared to whisper to me that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, I wanted to scream and start waiving my fists in the air. I’ve learned the hard way that God DOES give us more than we can handle. But he does it so that we can learn to lean on Him. Only in hindsight can I see His wisdom in that.
Wonderful wonderful! My heart has absorbed this and and I will be keeping this close!
I needed to be here this morning … thank you, Kristen …
Thank you Kristen! We need to be reminded “That all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called According to His purpose. ” I have to remind myself “All Things” means the (good,bad and ugly)
When I’m going through a trial, “I ask God, what are You trying to teach me here”
Father please give me a teachable spirit!!
Thank you…true words here….
Lisa H. says
Thank you!!! I grew up hearing that as well, that God won’t give us more than we can handle. At some point, I realized that to be untrue, and now it just burns when I hear some well-meaning person spout it to someone who’s in pain. I remind myself of this often when I’m at the end of my rope and no longer able to hang on. I ask God what I need to learn from this, and I do my best to let it go and turn it over to Him, because He CAN handle anything. And I am so thankful for that!
Beautiful….thank-you. The words that you have written I will take with me today and remember.
I too have heard time and time again how we are only given what we can handle and so I would try to reassure myself that “I could handle this” but the truth always was that without the Lord it would be far too much for me or for anyone else to handle.
Nancy Ruegg says
Wisdom and encouragement wrapped up in one terrific post, Kristen. LOVE the Nate Pyle quote. Also appreciated these insightful words of yours: “The purpose of our pain is to make us rely on God, so that His great power is made evident in our weakness–when we can’t handle another thing.” Thank you for redirecting our focus, our purpose in suffering.
You speak truth. We can know that we dont live this life by ourself. God carries our lives…he carries us..we can lean on him…we dont have to do it by ourselves…oh yes!
Thank you for addressing this, it really needed to be said. Being on the receiving end of “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is unbelievably painful. People that casually throw such wreckless words at those who are barely clinging to hope or life for that matter are only inflicting more pain. And the self loathing of why “I can’t handle this or I must not have enough faith” spins one’s mind into a deeper place of brokenness.
Wow! These words are so very true. I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for addressing these careless words we so often throw around. I agree with you Shannon. I’ve been in the same place.
A simple thank you. So needed this.
Chris Malkemes says
Powerful words of truth, sister. They were needed to be said. We just can’t handle anything on our own – such a lie of the “self.” Thank you for sharing. ~Chris~
Linda C says
You were writing where I am living right now. My precious 13-year old granddaughter (who is a child of God and a believer) was raped. So you can imagine where our families’ hearts and minds are every hour of every day. I don’t want to give her the stock answer either. But I do want her to know that there isn’t anything God can’t handle and because she is His child, He will enable her along with Him, to deal with this experience over time. Healing takes time, but I believe He will heal her. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You were led!
I loved you book Kristen, just finished reading it last week 🙂
But now I feel like I have more questions than answers.
God is awesome & powerful & can do miracles. So I don’t understand why He helps us sometimes, healing our sick etc & other times He doesn’t. If He loves is so much why does He allow us to suffer when He has the power to change it?
HI, Tyreena. I’ve no idea why He doesn’t step in and fix things for us each and every time. It is agonizing at times, isn’t it?!?!!! I hope that Kristen will respond to your post, but she might not see it, so I thought that I’d write a little. Keep asking God yourself, and keep reading the Bible. David often asked God why He was delaying, and why He wouldnt’ step in and take care of things in the Psalms. It encourages us to be honest with God in our struggles and trust Him thru them. I think I’ve come to think that while we won’t see things all resolved and tied up in bows now, maybe I need to remember that in the end, when we are in heaven/on the new earth, then it will all be worked out for good and forever. That this life is very short compared to eternity. That things will be more clear then. I hope this helps, even a tiny bit.
Susan Gruener says
This is such Truth and so powerful! I am going to print this out and read it again and again and share it with my women’s small group at church.
Thank you, and may you be blessed as you bless others!
Lisa Brown says
This is a very powerful blog post. It is hard to remember that we will suffer in this world and we expect that life is supposed to be glorious all the time. When its not, we get all religious and make up sayings to carry us through. The reality is that we can only find our peace in God and that is why I love this post. We need Jesus to help us and knowing that He is with us is comforting. I can’t handle the burdens of this world or my personal life without the realization that I am dependent on the King of Kings. I can only handle the trials in my life because of my faith. Thanks so much for posting. Your words help me desire to dig deeper in my relationship with God.
Thank you for sharing loved this post. Helps me to thoughtful in what I say. God is great in the wisdom He passes on to others to share
That’s a great question. I don’t know. But I do believe God is sovereign and somehow, someway uses our pain and suffering for our good and his glory. In tough seasons, I have to remind myself when I can trace His hand in my life, I can trust His heart for me. Praying for you today.
God bless you Kristen and thank you for this post! As I bear this, I am not alone. Jesus is right here with me. I am waiting expectantly on God to redeem my situation. I don’t know how and I don’t know when. All I know is He is a faithful Father!
Jesus I thank You for Your peace that guards my heart and my mind as I actively look and wait upon You Lord to do something in my situation.
Great encouragement Kristen!
AMEN. I know that people mean well….they have good intentions and mean to encourage. They mean that GOD will give us the strength we need to handle whatever God allows to come into our lives. But when our oldest son was born with Down Syndrome…and then later, when our youngest child was diagnosed with cancer…having someone say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” just made me feel frustrated. Because I knew in my heart they were wrong. God does indeed give us more than we can handle. This: “The purpose of our pain is to make us rely on God, so that His great power is made evident in our weakness–when we can’t handle another thing.” SO TRUE.
Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you for that… Wow!!! Needed to hear those words. I have a 17 year old and our relationship is getting hard to understand due to her… Not liking and rules at home now. She thinks she is a grown up and doesn’t like any curfews now. But I know my God will take care of both of us and help me be stronger in Faith and help my daughter become stronger in Faith and not be so disrespectful!!!
Thank you thank you for this post. For so many years I’ve heard that lie and its twisted me inside and out. Thank you for speaking the truth today.
Thank you. I walked out of church today as the sermon was on healing. This after my baby died of leukaemia in May…This has been the message I needed this morning. Thank you so much.xx
Thank you for this reminder. It touches some deep wounds & helps them heal.
Thank you so much for the reminder of suffering. That I am not the only one. That I am not alone in a marriage where it hurts beyond I can handle. Thank you for sharing all of these truths. The enemy often whispers that I deserve the suffering and I appreciate you reminding me of these lies. Thank you and God Bless You my Sister in Christ.
Mary Ellen Shedron says
Ms. Welch, I can not thank you enough for sharing your wisdom on this specific topic. For the last six years my life has gone through more turbulence than I could’ve ever imagined and I lost count of the number of times I said to myself, “I can’t handle this. I CAN’T HANDLE THIS.”
On the “outside”, I was saying “God’s got this” and other perky, upbeat phrases.
When I would slip and say to people in my immediate life, “I absolutely can’t handle this anymore,” I’d get a lecture about how I’m disappointing God with “that kind of talk.”
I’m weary from telling God how sorry I am I failed His test of me.
Maybe, I don’t have to be weary anymore.
Another lie unmasked. Thank you!
Thank you so much!
I cannot tell you the countless times that casual cliche’ (among others) has been thrown my way.
I have a daughter 14 years old that is developmentally delayed (to give you the context).
Well meaning ‘friends’ has used that one so many times.
What they really mean is –
I don’t have a clue about what you are / have experienced.
I don’t know what to say.
Which is perfectly fine but ‘God won’t give you more than you can handle???’
‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’?
No, I don’t believe it one minute.
Why would my God ‘pile a heavy load up on me’ then turn around and tell me
to cast my cares upon him?
As you stated, the cliche is NOT Biblical and now when someone says it to me…
I ask them “Where did you see that in scripture? … because I haven’t been able to find it.”
Thanks for the timely message. It encourages me and offer a good explanation of what I am going through. Thank God His Grace is sufficient for me. Just today I felt so overwhelming because of fears that grip me. This message reminds me that I focus too much on my problem that grew bigger & bigger that it minimises God. I am reminded of a message previously, don’t tell God how big your problem is but tell your problem, how big your God is. God is an overcome He will help me to overcome, in Him I have the victory.
Lord Jesus, if I ever needed to hear this this day! Lord bless you Kristen. This trial I’ve been going through, shook the very foundations of my faith. I had so many questions, and even found myself angry with the Lord. Which I really was afraid to show or speak it but it’s very real. I’ve been through soooo much tribulation, at times, I just felt like throwing in the towel, throw it down the street and around the corner. But God…..he would always come through and comfort me at my weakest hour.
My lovely son died 21st March 2006, by falling 3.000 metres from a cliff in Tenerife.
I think of him every day & so want to believe he still exists .
I want to believe in Heaven.
I wish I had your faith.
A part of me believes, a part doesn’t .
Patricia Allen says
These were all fantastic comments and blessed me beyond measure.As I read the comments ,I felt led to a answer a couple with what the Lord has told me.The first is for Tyreena.I have had chronic muscle skeleton pain since 1991 Andrew since then been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I have been in severe pain every day.I asked the Lord why and what he told me was it was for”His Glory”.When we have a continued sweet spirit even though we are in pain it gives God glory.The enemy wants us to curse God (as in Job) but if we don’t God is pleased. Also when we suffer we are sharing in Christs’ suffering then we know what he did for us and never even complained about his torture. Also I wanted to say that the verse people are misquoting is 1 Corinthians 10:13
Patricia Allen says
Don’t you just love typos lol. I had to do another reply because I was having trouble finishing the post.Jesus had to have some one help him carry His cross.Are we any different. And he was God.I had people say that statement to me also and after this week of the Lord sending people my way to help me and stand by me I know he knows I am carrying to much and it is by His strength that I am able to walk.I just started using a cane.One last thing is for Siobhan and others who have lost loved ones.I can relate ,I have lost many friends, family, parents, and children. I grieve with you.Jesus has promised to heal the broken hearted.All you have to do is call his name and ask him to forgive you. And he will. He will feel that void that you have in your heart. I don’t know if the person that passed was forgiven or not.Our spirits will live forever! It depends on whether we accept Jesus Christ or deny him whether we make it to heaven or not.Jesus said he is the Only way to the Father. My prayers are with you all. Thanks
Raynore Jones says
I have sat here crying while reading this. It came just after a young friend told me he doesn’t want to die. The words don’t come..what’s the right thing to say? So I pray and I cry for him and I hope God gives him the words he needs to hear.
Thank you for sharing with us. It helps so much!
Chioma Agomo says
Very reassuring and comforting indeed. Sometimes however, it may seem that the pain will never go away. It may seem that The Lord has forgotten. This message reminds the believer struggling with pain from whatever source that JESUS never fails.
God’s timing is perfect. I found this when I needed it most, at the end of the rope.
Thanks SO MUCH for sharing this! Such an encouragement and SO true! Bless you for being real!
Thank you soooooo much for this and I am encouraged by the many honest, real and heartfelt responses. It is soooooooo hard when you are in the midst of your trials or those of your loved ones and it is truly by faith that we can all stand together in kowing our God will walk the journey with us. God Bless you all!! ♡
I found myself furiously writing similar thoughts in my journal this morning; it irks me to death with the 1 Corinthians verse is used out of context! 🙁 But then I thought of Isaiah 43:2– in context, is this verse essentially saying the same thing (God won’t give you more than you can handle) or am I missing something? Any thoughts?