2141 – 795 – 2016-08-19

Hugo, thank you for the input. While I mostly agree, my only question would be, “What do people hear when they hear someone say, ‘God won’t give you more than you can handle’? How does the way and situations in which we quote that phrase, ‘God won’t give you more than you can handle’ affect the understanding?”

Here’s what I mean. I think for many people who hear ‘God won’t give you more than you can handle’, they hear, “I’ve got this. I can handle it. I’m good.” However, the challenges we face are to be used to draw us closer to God and to rely upon Him, not ourselves. Our response shouldn’t be, “I’ve got this” but rather, “I don’t have this. It’s more than I can handle…but it’s not too much for God. So, I’ll trust and cling to Him, not myself.” Because we (especially Americans), tend to celebrate individualism and self-reliance, I think the danger of a phrase like “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is that it can potentially come across like a pep talk to go handle it yourself – “You can do it!” (which we’re all too eager to embrace) – rather than a call to seek God desperately and rely totally on Him.

Secondly, I think the phrase “God won’t give you more than you can handle” has the danger of running roughshod over the reality of Christian suffering, historically and presently in the world today. If by “God won’t give you more than you can handle”, you mean, “Don’t worry. No matter what suffering and pain you experience in this life, your life is hidden in Christ and you’re destined to rise again to live forever in God’s new and restored creation – reigning with Christ for eternity”, then I’m all on board!

However, I doubt that’s what most people mean when they say “God won’t give you more than you can handle”. Usually, I believe, they mean and hear, “Don’t worry, it’s going to get better soon. Just trust God.” Again, if you’re looking with an eternal perspective, then YES! It going to get better…a lot better…when Christ comes to make all things new. However, I don’t think that’s what most people mean. They hear…it’s going to get better, here and now, in the life I’m currently living. It may. It often does. But it might not. In fact, for those who have walked faithfully with God, it is sometimes the opposite (Hebrews 11:36-39). In reference to Hebrews 11:37, the phrase “God won’t give you more than you can handle” could, I suppose, apply to the person being sawed in two or stoned for their faith (maybe in reference to that persons ability to not renounce their faith?) but I doubt that’s what people have in mind when we say that phrase.

Especially in light of financial teaching, Hebrews 11:1…”Faith is the confidence in what we hope for and the assurance of what we do not see”…it’s important to define what our ‘hope’ is. If our hope is that we’re always going to have enough money, or that we’ll live in relative comfort or retire at 65 with enough capital to cruise to Alaska, then “God won’t give you more than you can handle” smacks of a prosperity gospel that that says, “If you have faith and trust in God, you’ll be good money-wise”. Yet that’s not where the writers of Scripture set their hopes. Their hope – and ours, if we are to join them – is in the resurrection, in God’s renewed world, with Christ.

I believe you and I are on the same page on this one. I just felt that it is an important issue to clarify, as the statement “He does not give us more than we can bear..” can easily be misconstrued and made to say many things that don’t jive with what Scripture says. Sorry for the novel here…