You may have heard (or shared) the popular phrase, “God will not give you more than you can handle.”
I’m convinced that that phrase is entirely unhelpful. (It’s also not in the Bible.) Who defines what we can handle? Most of the times we want to, but it doesn’t work like that.
Yes, it’s true that God promises us that we won’t be tempted beyond we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). But God doesn’t promise to act as a bouncer who only lets difficulty enter our lives one issue at a time. Sometimes life’s difficulties pile up and seem way beyond our ability to bear.
In the midst of the storms of life, what God does promise us is His presence (Matthew 28:20). He promises to be with us until the end of the age and to never leave or forsake us. Sometimes life’s circumstances seem unbearable, but we can do all things through Him who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13), because He is walking through the difficulty right beside us.
Jesus chose the burdened life so He could carry our heaviest burden—our own sin—and give us hope for a better day when all will be right. And so we wait for that glorious day.
The past few weeks have been very difficult for my family and I, with my mother, who has been battling ovarian cancer for over three years now, being hospitalized and facing an uncertain earthly future. (Please keep her and our family in prayer.) The past few days have been an emotional rollercoaster for us to say the least. I think in situations like ours, it is natural to ask God serious questions.
Why is all of this happening? Why can’t it be easier?
I’ve been comforted by a story told by Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place of a time, as a child, when she asked her father a weighty question while on a long train ride, a question whose answer wasn’t appropriate for a girl her age. Her father’s response helps me as I think about the mysteries of suffering and the “why” questions we ask God:
[After I asked the question] He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.
“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
“It’s too heavy,” I said.
“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”1
Some things are too heavy to carry in this life, but our infinitely wise and loving heavenly Father knows that, gives us all of the answers we need to know at the moment (see Deuteronomy 29:29), and helps us carry the heavy loads life heaps upon us.
He will keep our feet from slipping
The experience of the Psalmist in Psalm 94 has comforted us during this time:
“If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.” Psalm 94:17-18
It is God Himself who holds us up, who is the lifter of our heads when we are downcast (Psalm 3:3), who will always be with us, and who has proven all of this at the cross.
“Lord, this burden is too heavy for me to carry,” we cry.
We must trust the Lord to carry our burdens for us, for only He is strong enough to carry our heaviest burdens.
1 The Hiding Place (Bantam, Reissue Edition, 1984) 26-27