I’m sure that you’ve heard this quote before or somebody has recited it to you during a dark time in your life (if you haven’t, don’t worry, you’ve been spared). “The Lord will not give you more than you can handle.” They think they’ve quoted a bible verse. It kinda sounds like one. I’ll admit, I’ve quoted this one to myself a time or two, thinking it was a bible verse. And plenty of people, with sweet intentions, have handed me these words like a soothing balm to a raw wound.
It’s supposed to ease our heart’s anxiety, to bring us out of the dark perspective we tend to allow ourselves to wallow in. It’s supposed to be encouraging, “you can do it! You’ll get through this!”.
I was relieved when a friend corrected me on this years ago. “You won’t find that in the bible, it’s not a verse.” At first I was taken aback. Of course it is! How many times have people spouted it off? And then I thought about it more. Thank God. Thank God this is not found in the bible because I have failed it. And I secretly did not believe it. It does sound trite and over simplified doesn’t it?
What the bible says is this, “with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26). Jesus was talking to his disciples about how it is impossible for man, on his own, to enter into heaven. There is another verse (Romans 8:28) in the bible that says, “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
So, if you’ve ever been through something impossibly hard, if you’ve ever been asked to do something beyond your abilities, take comfort that God hasn’t allowed you to go through it on your own because he knows that “you can handle it.” God knows I can’t even handle driving through Philly, much less walking through the grief of losing a loved one or anything else that is impossibly hard. How does going through something with my own strength bring him glory anyway? This “verse” makes it sound like whatever occurs in my life, I should be able to handle in my own strength. I will tell you now that it is only when I admit to my weakness that I am able to fully grasp onto his strength. God does give me impossible experiences. But he gives his strong hold and presence to walk through it with me. And in the end, “all things work together for the good of those who love him.” It sounds like a nice tidy package. So simple. But we know that the space between “the before” and “the after” can be messy, dark, and impossibly long. Our times of trial, along with our times of triumph, are knit together to make a beautiful tapestry reflecting his greatness and love.
It is my deepest desire to open myself to his presence always, to hold onto him at all times, to know that he is holding onto me, to walk through this life with him, step by step, moment by moment. It doesn’t happen as much as what I would like it to. But hopefully it is happening more and more.
Psalm 37:23 & 24 “If the Lord delights in a man’s ways, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall. For the Lord upholds him with his hand.” (NIV)
“Stalwart walks in step with God; his path blazed by God, he’s happy. If he stumbles, he’s not down for long: God has a grip on his hand.” (Message)