There are certain phrases and stories that within Christianity often get treated as though they were Scripture. Like the story of the footprints in the sand… it’s awful (and by awful, I just mean it's cheesy)! But Christians everywhere know it. It’s treated as though the footprints in the stand story comes in the appendix of all our Bibles and is expected to hang in at least one office in every church. Sometimes these phrases can be helpful in helping us understand and remember core aspects of our faith. But other times the phrases themselves can actually be a disservice to our faith. They can actually teach something contrary to what the Bible teaches.
One of these phrases:
“God won’t give you anything you can’t handle."
I’ve heard this a ton from well-meaning people who are either trying to encourage someone else in a moment of pain or trying to make through a situation they are in. The problem with this phrase is that it gets twisted into something that isn’t taught in the Bible. And the theology of the phrase itself is inaccurate and dangerous. Now, this phrase probably didn’t come out of nowhere, there is something like it in the Bible.
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” - 1 Corinthians 10:13
This is the closest thing we have to “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” So if we are talking about our temptation, that God won’t let our temptations go beyond what we can handle, the statement is accurate. But if we are talking about the difficulties, the suffering in life, this statement is a poor application of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
Do you really think you can handle it?
If God really doesn’t give you more than you can handle, who is the hero? Because when you’re dealing with a death of a family member and “God didn’t give you more than you can handle,” God doesn’t seem like the good guy in that scenario.
Cancer? Can you really handle cancer? No one can.
When we believe that God doesn’t give us what we can’t handle, we are the heroes. We are the ones who deserve the boasting. We are the ones who are strong enough and can make it through. We are the ones who can handle it on our own. When we believe that it’s up to us to handle it, we are left relying on our own strength and our own fight.
When things get difficult, the best thing we can do is not convince ourselves that we can handle it. Instead we need to be honest about what we can and cannot handle. God may allow us to face things that we cannot handle, but he can handle it. It is in those moments when you don’t think you can make it another moment that God promises to be with you. And he handles it. He suffers with you. He listens. He weeps. He is present.
God handles it; you don’t have to. And based on what we read in scriptures it doesn’t seem like you want to be the one who handles it on your own.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” - 1 Corinthians 1:27-31
God chooses the weak. He chooses the despised and the foolish. He chooses those who can’t handle it themselves. And in doing so there is no one that can boast in themselves, but instead they must “boast in the Lord.”
And he handles it. You don’t. It’s his power, your weakness. It’s not about you handling anything, it’s about your God handling what you are completely unable to handle on your own.