By Tonya Nevarez
Ladies, I’m prefacing this study with a warning. This message may seem all over the place. It did not come with a nice, clean, structured outline, so please bear with me and try to glean from it what you can. I had a hard time choosing just one promise to teach on. There are soooo many, and they are so good. I was discussing my dilemma with few people one night: I could teach on my favorite promise: “trust in the Lord with all your heart…”, or there is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, or “He will never leave me nor forsake me”, or “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
My daughter spoke up when I mentioned the last one. She really wanted me to teach on that one. She said everybody needs to hear that because we all feel overwhelmed sometimes, like God has given us too much. So, of course, then I was leaning towards that one. “God will never give you more than you can handle,” that sounds really good, but there’s just one problem: when I looked up the scripture it’s based upon, 1 Cor. 10:13, this is what I read: (NKJV) “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Unfortunately, over time people have morphed “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you bear” into “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Yet, this scripture specifically uses various forms of the word tempt three times. I checked other translations to see if they differed, but they all have it in some form or another: “the temptations in your life”, “the wrong desires that come into your life”, “test or temptation that comes your way.”
Many things came to light when studying this promise. First, the most obvious: the saying “God won’t give you more than you can handle” may have become part of our normal Christian lingo, BUT it isn’t a promise, it’s more like a half-truth. A half-truth is something that Christians often say, and may even think is in the Bible, but when you look closer, may not be as true as you thought. I am guilty of misquoting this scripture. I have said it to encourage those who are overwhelmed. With that being said, there are many scriptures that do support the idea of us being able to endure, but the answer is not looking within ourselves. Psalm 16:8 (NLT), “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.”
Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT) says, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Life throws things our way: death of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of a home, medical issues, car problems, the list goes on and on. So if I know someone who has a lot on their plate, someone who is overwhelmed with life and I try to encourage her by saying : “God will not give you more than you can handle,” I (without meaning to) may be implying that God put all that on her plate, and that SHE is strong enough to handle it. Both are not true. Trials, problems, sufferings come from several different sources; some are from God, some are consequences of our own flesh and sin; some are caused by others, and yes some from Satan. But take comfort in this; even though everything in our life is not caused by God, He is still in control; He allows all things to happen. Does He allow so much in one individual’s life because they are so strong? No, He allows so much because HE is so strong. “God will, very likely, give you more than YOU can handle.
He will not, however, give you more than HE can handle.” In light of this discovery, I was wondering if I should still teach on 1 Cor. 10:13? Well, this scripture too is a promise, just a bit different than what I first expected. In 1 Cor. 10:13 Paul is talking about temptation, not suffering. The Living Bible translates it this way: “But remember this—the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it.
The definition of tempt is to entice to do something unwise or wrong. Temptation is an urge or desire. Well, we all at some time or another are tempted. Tempted to what? Tempted to sin, to take the easy path, to throw in the towel, to do it our way, and ultimately, tempted to leave God. I couldn’t shake the feeling that God still wanted me to teach on this promise in 1 Corinthians. A little back story, I have been trying to run more. I hate running, I am slow, it’s boring and I don’t have much endurance, but I have found that it is a great time to pray. A few months back I struggled with finishing a mile, but I kept running a block or two further each time. There were days that my body didn’t want to finish, but then I was reminded how much I don’t want to do in life, but I do it because it is right, I do it because it is good. My run became a physical image of what I wanted to accomplish spiritually. I would pray for endurance and perseverance, yes to run, but more for important things in my life (especially spiritual things) that I need to persevere in and also for my kids to persevere.
What does this have to do with God’s promise? Well, it clicked one day when I was hiking with my husband up the Ridge. It was hot, I felt weak, and I have this thing with my body where my energy just gives out when I exert myself to much, too fast (I think it has to do with my blood sugar). Well, this was a tough day and as I looked up the hill to my husband treading along, I wanted to give up, then I remembered all the endurance I had developed with my running and I decided to just take it slowly but surely, 10 feet at a time. Take it at my pace but keep going forward, slow and steady. Then this study came to mind. These things affecting my hike are like the trials of life. They feel like they are more than I can bear. Like I can’t finish, but my husband is pressing on. That too became discouraging, but then I remembered that we all walk our own walk. He doesn’t carry all the same things as me even though we look the same: same hike, same heat, but not the same struggles. Do I give up? Turn back? No. I kept moving forward, maybe at a slower pace (like a snail), but always forward. Just like in life I told myself, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6) What path is He putting me on? Well, Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” With endurance He is putting us on a good path. The right path. Even if it is hard. Yes, that is when I got clarity that this is what God has for me to teach on.
Pressing on, not giving up. Not because we are so strong, but because God is. We are not alone. Sometimes life stinks, but God is always there. Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Isaiah 41:10 (NLT) says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Temptation is a part of life. Our desire to sin can sometimes feel so much more powerful than our desire to do what is right before God. But overcoming any given temptation is possible. That is true for every Christian. The experience of human temptation is part of what makes our relationship with Jesus one of trust and hope. God is for us. He loves us. He is not waiting for us to fail; He is ready to help us. One way that He helps believers is to actively work in our lives to keep us from ever being tempted beyond what we can resist. We might not always believe we can overcome temptation. Satan might encourage us to see some temptations as irresistible. But God promises that we can resist it, in the power of the Holy Spirit Galatians 6:9 (NLT) “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
The difference between a test and a temptation is found in the tester’s motivations and expectations. The devil tempts so that we might fail God’s standards and sin. God tests that He might determine and sharpen true character in us, with no focus on making us fail. James 1:2-4 (NKJV) James tells us that we should “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” God is actively working to help those who are in Christ, who want to do what is right, to be successful. I looked up the word temptation in my Strong’s concordance. It means a test or trial. The definition for trial is a test to see if something is good or bad. It also means suffering or adversity. Some of you have been praying along with us for a little 2 month old baby, Grayson, who recently had heart surgery. He was born with a hole in his heart, his parents have known that a surgery was necessary since before he was born. I’m sure they have been praying for months for God to heal their baby (which He didn’t), and maybe they questioned why this was happening (what had they done), but listen to his mom’s words when Grayson was going into surgery: “this mama is a wreck, but God is protecting him and holding him the whole way.” She is a young woman and is looking in the right place for strength in this trial. We should not tell this young mother that God does not give her more than she can handle, but there are scriptures we can give those who are going through trials: Romans 8:35-37 (NLT) “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”
Romans 12:12 (NLT) “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”
Isaiah 43:2 (NLT) “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
Psalm 31:7 (NLT) “I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.”
Psalm 34:18 (NKJV) “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”
Psalm 40:1 (NLT) “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.”
Psalm 46:1 (NKJV) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Psalm 116:1-2 (NLT) “I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” Good scriptures for those in need.
So “Does God ever give us more than we can handle?” Simply put, “yes.” But let’s look at another passage Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9, NIV) The same author that wrote 1 Cor. 10:13 also wrote this. Paul knew that God would allow him to experience more hardship than he could bear. He had lived it. He had pressure in Asia that was far beyond his ability to endure. Why? Why did God allow Paul – and why does God allow us – to experience trials and difficulties, grief and pain, more than we can bear? One reason is found right there: so that we will rely on God and not on our own strength and power. When we are unable to deliver ourselves, God is able. When we are unable to stand up under the pressure, it will be God’s strength in us. God also allows us to go through so much, so in our situation others can see God. Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT) says, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.
No, God does not promise that He will never give us more than we can handle. Instead, He holds out His hand and tells us to lean on Him. Paul also spoke of thorn in his side in 2 Corinthians. He prayed three times for the Lord to remove it, but God’s answer is recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Yes, we have the privilege to pray and make requests to the Lord. He tells us to come boldly to the throne of grace, but that does not give us the right to demand or give up when we don’t get what we pray for. God’s will trumps all and His death and resurrection to save our souls, is more than enough.
I’m gonna finish with Philippians 4:6-13 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”