Suffering More Than We Can Handle

I am not sure the first time I heard it, but I thought it was something being quoted from the Bible.  I was going through a particularly hard time. I felt overwhelmed, battered and broken. I didn’t know how much more I could stand. My little world had come crashing down.

It was then I heard this, “Don’t worry God will not give you more than you can handle. He will provide a way through this.”
By koratmember, published on 31 October 2011<br />Stock Photo - image ID: 10062848They were words meant to encourage, to give hope. I thought, “Okay God we can do this together.”

It wasn’t okay.  My circumstances grew worse until I was a crumbled mess on the floor crying out to God, “STOP! It’s too much!” “Mercy! I give up, just take me home now!” I truly was at the end. I didn’t think I could handle one more thing and yet God’s plan was to keep piling it on.

I didn’t understand. If God doesn’t give us more than we can handle and if He always provides a way through then why was my life so out of control? Why did it seem I had more than I could possibly handle? Was I weak? Was there sin in my life that God was trying to purge? Was He trying to teach me something and I was just too stubborn? While the answers to these questions could be a resounding YES! I have come to realize the lie that was spoken and has been spoken every time someone speaks that little phrase.

The Bible doesn’t say that God will not give us more than we can handle. It isn’t anywhere. I have looked and looked. It’s just not there.

Many will point you to 1 Cor 10:13 which says that He will not allow you to be tempted beyond that which you can bear. He will always provide a way for us to escape temptation. It does not say anything about suffering or trials.

In fact the Bible says just the opposite. We read in 1 Cor 1:8-12 we read Paul’s letter saying that he was burdened excessively, beyond his strength. So much so that he thought he was going to die. Paul goes on to say that he suffered to the point that he could not trust in himself, in his strength or abilities but he could trust in the God who raises the dead. He trusted in the One who He knew could deliver him.

It wasn’t an attitude of, “Okay God, it’s you and me in this together.” No Paul released it all into God’s hands. He set his hope in the One who would and could deliver him. He always reminds the people that it was their prayers that got them through.

If God doesn’t give me more than I can handle then why do I need Him? I could do it in my own strength and wouldn’t need to rely on Him. But He does give us more than we can handle. He can and often does bring us to the point we too, despair of life. But why? Why would God want us to suffer and hurt?

I went back to the same passage for the answer. I saw two things at work.
1. It causes me to trust in God alone. It brings me to the end of myself, to the point I realize that I am indeed weak and can do nothing apart from Him. Suffering causes me to place our confidence in nothing and no one but Him. I must set my hope on Him alone.
2. It allows others to join in helping me through their prayers. When I enlist the prayers of the saints I am saying that I need help. I can not do this alone. I need you.
Neither of these are easy. Pride often gets in the way. I want to be independent and have the ability to handle life’s crisis. I want to be strong. I don’t want to come across as needy.

The truth is when I try I often fail and make things worse. I also miss out on all God desires to do in me and through me. When I surrender all to God and seek the prayers of others when God does lead me through the suffering I can not say that I did it. In fact I must give all glory to God and praise Him for I am aware of just how weak I am. I am needy and in desperate need of a God who works in and through me.

Dear sister or brother are you struggling today? Do you feel you might be going down for the last time? Surrender it all to God. Just give it to Him. Admit you are weak and can not do it. Place your trust in His abilities and His power. Have the hope that God promises to deliver you. Just stop trying to fix your life and give it over to the One who can. 
For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively , beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead ;who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. 2 Cor 1:8-11 (emphasis mine)

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Bible translation used NASB


  1. Thank you for processing this with us. I love that last passage you used--God has used it multiple times in my life to encourage me when I was way beyond my strength. I'm so grateful He is patient and teaches me over and over in a variety of avenues that I may trust in Him, who raises the dead!

    Deb Weaver

  2. Wow! You so get this right. Thanks for shining light on a familiar passage with an unfamiliar interpretation. I used to be one of those who used this verse wrongly, but yeah, I've had things in my life (often!) that were too much for me to bear. I know I need the Lord! May we all learn to surrender it all to God.


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