Never Too Much

Does God ever give us more than we can handle? 1 Corinthians 10:13 says,

No temptation has seized you except that which 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 endure it.

But the context of this passage is in reference, rather specifically, to the reality of temptation and our ability to overcome it. While this is an awesome promise, and an important thing to understand and live in, this is not the answer to the original question.

The answer to the question, “Does God ever give us more than we can handle?”, is YES.

We are constantly dealing with one trial or another, whether great or small. As was stated recently by Pastor Greg Laurie, “We are either in the midst of a trial, just coming out of one, or are just about to enter one.”

The real question – we think – is about us, and when we are in the midst of great suffering, it can seem that it’s too much for us. But that’s the truth of it: it is too much!

Everyone who lives apart from Christ is trying to do it all themselves. For whatever reason, they’ve pushed God away and are living on their own, and they are alone, regardless of how many people are in their lives. They believe they are living on their own terms, slaves to the tower of lies they’ve built for themselves.

And when God allows them to undergo significant, life-changing trials, isn’t it logical that he would allow them to be humbled, taken to that breaking point so that they would realize their folly and turn to him?

But what about those who abide in Christ? Should we be immune to the great life-changing and faith-strengthening trials that this broken world creates for us? Of course not, since our lives here now are a preparation for eternity, God must allow us to undergo the same trials and tribulations, but for the purpose of growth of faith and character, and the experience to offer comfort and help to others at a later time.

In any training activity, whether running, weight-lifting, or whatever, the one in training has no upward growth unless obstacles or challenges exist. The “raising of the bar” (that’s a pole-vaulting term), or increasing the weight must come BEFORE the growth.

If one is bench-pressing 150lbs., for example, he will never be able to press 200lbs. if he never presses a weight greater than the 150. In fact, it’ll take time, hard-work, and determination – most of all, pain – before he can begin lifting the greater weights. And during this process, he requires a “spotter” to help him finish his reps when the workout becomes more than he can handle.

In the same way, we must take on greater challenges than we ourselves can handle. God allows this, and may often direct us into such challenges in preparation for something greater.

How many times have I prayed for God to lead me into something bigger and better, something beyond where I was? And as always, I’m hoping and expecting him to do it sooner than later. But in his big-picture kind of way, he looks ahead to where he wants me to be and says, “You’re not ready yet for what I have planned for you.” He says, “I’m gonna need you to press 200lbs in next year’s competition. So we better start training.”

Of course, he doesn’t say that out loud, and I wouldn’t understand the logic anyway, so all I hear is silence and a non-answer. But if I can earnestly trust God to have my best interests at heart (and I know he does), then wherever I am is where he wants me to be. But I must be conscious of the fact that if I never allow myself to be pushed outside of my comfort zone, if I’m never forced to endure challenges or severe trials, how will I ever be prepared for the greater things God would have me do?

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.- Hebrews 12:7-11

If Moses had just said “no” to God in the burning bush, God could not have used him for the purpose God intended. Yet while he was reluctant, Moses accepted the challenge to do and say more than he was able. He trusted God’s authority and power to work through him to accomplish the things he said he would do. But if Moses had not been willing to undergo the great challenge of facing Pharoah and enduring the humiliation of repeated “noes” and ridicule from his own people, he would never have had the strength to stand strong and lead the Israelites out of Egypt and through the desert to the Promised Land. God would have had to find someone else.

Granted, there are times when the trial or suffering is so great that we certainly wish God would give it to another. But remember that God doesn’t always give us trials. He may allow them to happen to us, but that doesn’t mean he causes them. Quite the contrary. This world is not the one he designed it to be, but he’s making do with what he’s got now. He just wants to be in relationship with us, and to make us more like Christ in preparation for forever.

The reality is that if we never had to handle anything beyond what we could bear, we would never need God. We wouldn’t need faith to know that he had a greater purpose, we wouldn’t need to ask for his help, we wouldn’t need to seek out the love and support of those around us, we wouldn’t need community, we wouldn’t need anybody. And the very God in whom we declare life would be rendered unnecessary. If we could live without God, we would be gods. And that was the very lie in which we once lived. Or don’t you remember?

But make no mistake, the things we must endure are very important to him. He doesn’t just wave his hand and say that it’s no big deal. God is love, and he experiences every emotion we do. So when we are experiencing difficulty, we can be confident that he is standing right there ready to wrap his arms around us.

But you’ve got to turn and face him, and open your arms to him too.