I think there is a very subtle, potentially very damaging lie being propagated by well meaning Christians. The lie is, “God will not give you more than you can handle” (henceforth known as The Lie). It’s used as a word of comfort when people are going through struggles. I guess the interpretation is since God “won’t give you more than you can handle”, you can handle what you are going through. My guess is this comes from a misunderstanding or twisting of “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” 1 Corinthians 10:13. To me, The Lie was one of those things I didn’t think sounded right but I didn’t know for sure. I never really saw too much wrong with it until I was reading my Bible one day and a scripture jumped out at me.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, regarding the affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living.
2 Corinthians 1:8
That scripture alone disproves The Lie. Paul tells us, he and his companions were burdened beyond their own strength. So what happens when people believe The Lie is a truth about God and then life throws something at them that they cannot handle? That is where it becomes damaging. Plain and simple, they could lose faith in God. For someone who lays their burdens on The Lie when they encounter a situation they cannot handle in their paradigm God has failed.
There Is Hope
Now that we know the truth, that we may be burdened beyond our strength not all is lost. There is hope!
Indeed we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. He delivered us from so great a risk of death, and he will deliver us. We have set our hope on him that he will deliver us yet again…
2 Corinthians 1:9-10
We have another example of Paul not relying on his own strength. The key is to trust in God who has the strength to do all things and not our own strength. So if the lie is, “God will not give you more than you can handle” the truth is “God will not give you more than He can handle.”
In verses 9-10 Paul tells us that God delivered them and they believe He will deliver them again! David knew God had delivered him from the lion and the bear and had faith that God would deliver him from Goliath as well (1 Samuel 17:37). There we have two clear examples of people acting in faith that God would deliver them, and He did.
Our Final Hope
Even though we cannot bear our burdens under our own strength God is able to deliver us. But before we fall right back into bad teaching and exchange “God will not give you more than you can handle” to “God will deliver you from _____________” we also have to remember even death of a believer is a form of deliverance, and God did not deliver Paul and the other apostles from all of their trials. If we can learn to accept it, I think our ultimate comfort in trial comes from Job.
Even if he slays me, I will hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face! Moreover, this will become my deliverance, for no godless person would come before him.
Through Job’s trial he said he would hope in God, even if God were the one that slayed him. Job was a righteous man and knew he did not do anything to deserve the horror that had become his life. So three things from these verses. 1) Job had trials even though he didn’t deserve it, it wasn’t a punishment for his sins. 2) He had faith that he would pass God’s judgement when he died, enough faith that he would bring a defense to the judgement. 3) Job recognized the death of the faithful was in fact deliverance.
So our only real hope is to focus on Jesus Christ, and look for what He would have us do through our trials and accept that the final deliverance may in fact be death. Paul and the apostles kept preaching the gospel through their trials even when faced with death.