God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.
Does that ring a bell? I hear it a lot, especially from cancer patients or their family members who feeling overwhelmed. They usually say something like this: “Now, I know God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, but . . .”
Many people are under the misconception there is a Bible verse that states this fact.
The closest thing I can find is 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it. (NIV)
I do believe that there is never a time we are tempted to sin when we simply have no choice but to give in. God always provides a way of escape so we can withstand temptation. The Bible also tells us that temptations do not ever come from God.
I also believe, however, that sometimes trials come into our life that are more than we can bear on our own, and cancer (or another serious illness) often is one of them. I consider myself a strong person, but at 36 facing cancer and the fact that my possibility of dying was greater than my possibility of surviving was more than I could face. Worrying about whether my daughters would have to grow up without a mother was way more than I could bear. And fearing that my husband would bury another wife was absolutely more than I could endure.
“This is more than I can handle,” I remember telling God, trying not to sound too whiny.
“I know,” He answered. “But it’s not too much for Me.”
That was one of the most freeing things I learned through my cancer journey. It was all right that I sometimes had more than I could handle. That’s when I would see the Bible verse in Philippians 4:13 come true in my life: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (NKJV)
I didn’t have to reach down inside myself and muster up some super strength. God supernaturally supplied it to me as I trusted in Him.
What a relief!
Even if my own resources were exhausted, God’s would never be.
My strength might be sapped, but He could still move mountains.
Everything could be changing around me, but He was always my Rock.
During those first early dark-days-after-cancer, I often thought of the shepherd boy David as he went into battle against the giant Goliath. Do you know what his battle cry was? He wasn’t like The Little Engine That Could, chugging along and repeating, “I think I can, I think I can.”
No, I believe he was thinking, “I know I can’t, I know I can’t.” He was the youngest and smallest boy in his family. Goliath was more than nine feet tall. But David’s battle cry was, “I know God can, I know God can.” If you read 1 Samuel 17:47 you’ll hear his exact words: The battle is the Lord’s. That phrase appears many times throughout the Old Testament, and it was what I said to myself as I awoke on most post-diagnosis mornings.
“I feel like a little shepherd with a slingshot facing a giant named Cancer, and it is more than I can handle,” I told the Lord. “But I am so glad it is not more than You can handle. The battle belongs to You, Lord. Fight for me and through me. Do what I cannot do on my own.”
And He did.
I love how the Apostle Paul describes a time in his life when he was faced with more than he could handle: We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9.
Sometimes you may get more than you can handle in your own strength. That’s okay. Whatever has happened to you has not taken God by surprise or caught Him off guard. He’s prepared for the battle and will equip you with whatever you need not to become a victim of whatever giant you face, but instead, to become a victor over it! Stop relying on yourself and learn to rely on God.
Thank you, Lord, than even when life gives me more than I can handle, it’s never too much for You. When I am weary or worried or overwhelmed, remind me that You have what I require to face each moment and You will supply all my needs as I trust in You. In the strong name of Jesus. Amen.