"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

When God Gives You More than You Can Handle

It is often said, and believed to be a part of the Bible, that God will not give you more than you can handle. The idea is that each person has a breaking point, and that God, knowing where that breaking point is, withholds difficulties at a certain point so that the individual does not break. A few times when I have asked people where that is in the Bible, they responded by saying that they don't know but they are sure it is in there.

One of the better ways of finding what is in the Bible is to use an "exhaustive concordance." There are many out there and they are a good investment if you hope to know your Bible at all. You can take any word or phrase and look it up, alphabetically, and find it...If it is there, of course. You know what you won't find? A verse that says God won't give you more than you can handle.

At least 2 caveats exist in regards to this principle. First, there is a verse that says God will not allow you to be TEMPTED beyond what you can resist:

"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 has to do with resisting SIN, a word not often heard in the general public or even many churches these days. To sin is to miss the mark, to fall short of the holiness God knows will bring you ultimate joy (sometimes through temporary self-denial.) So it means that will not lead you into temptation  (as in Jesus' prayer) that is more than you can resist, and he will give you a way out of any temptation. This is not a verse that proves God will not allow you to suffer more than you can handle.

The second caveat is that Scripture seems to teach, by principle, that God WILL give you more than you can handle. Hold on and let me explain. Paul teaches that God's strength shines through when we are beyond the end of our ropes:

7 ... Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

How else do we get there except that God allows us to walk through what we cannot otherwise bear, empowering and enabling us to do what we cannot do without him? He has to allow more than we, in our own strength, can handle.  It is the gift nobody wants, but those  who have received it, looking back, would not trade it for wealth, beauty or a life of ease.

At the foundation of the belief that God will not give us more than we can handle are a couple of errors. One is that we are intended to go through life relying on our own strength. Did you catch it in Paul's quotation of what God told him? He said that his GRACE is sufficient. Those who are self-contained and self-sufficient are not in need of grace. Grace is for the weak, the broken, and the fallen. Defined technically as "God's unmerited (unearned) favor," grace rushes in where we are lacking and gives us strength beyond our own abilities. If you are a believer in Christ, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in you! What a waste it would be to rely on your own puny human strength to wage a spiritual war you cannot win without him.

Another error (even harder to confront) is that our lives are supposed to be comfortable, bearable, and most importantly, about us. A true follower of Christ, sooner or later, comes to realize that his individual life is about magnifying Jesus. Each encounter is to glorify Christ, by whatever means necessary. This causes you to see the temporary nature of everything else. Only Jesus remains. He will give you grace and truth, love and power--more than you can handle!


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