“God won’t give you more than you can handle” is a phrase that everyone has heard, and most have probably used at some point. I have heard different opinions on this in the past, and my personal opinion for the last couple of years has been that God will not give us more than we can handle if we are living for Him and obeying Him. I have known other Christians who have shared my view on it, but most people I know generally throw the phrase around without even thinking much into it at all.
This phrase is commonly used by anyone who believes there is a God. I hear this used not just by “Christians”, “religious folk”, or “Jesus freaks”, but also by anyone who even remotely believes there may be a God. I hear this said in church and by friends and family, and of course with the use of social media it is easy to see how people throw it around nonchalantly. For example, there is a popular picture that people share on their facebook that reads, “God gives us only what we can handle. Apparently God thinks I’m a bad-***”.
The scripture which probably spawned this popular phrase and belief is 1 Corinthians 10:13, “God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” The proper understanding of this verse has nothing to do with our daily struggles in life, but more to do with our constant battle with the temptation to sin. The Bible gives us examples of Satan temping Jesus in Mathew 4:1-11, and many other references about how we have to constantly battle these temptations. It also instructs us to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). When you look at the specific context around this verse you can see that Paul was really warning the Corinthians not to be overly confident in their ability to resist temptation. This type of warning could be compared to advising an alcoholic to steer clear of a bar in order to avoid the temptation of drinking altogether.
I ran into a very angry unbeliever online once who said, “The saying that “God won’t give you more than you can handle is not true, why do you think so many people commit suicide?” I see now that God never promised such a thing. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 Paul speaks about their persecution in Asia and says, “…we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.” I love the rest of verse 9 which says, “…But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
We have hope because God is all powerful and we can lean on His strength through our trials and our temptations. The Bible speaks of temptation to sin in Hebrews 2:18 which says, “For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” We must learn to trust in Him no matter what we are going through. Whether in great trials or great temptation, leaning on God is the answer.