God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit. (1 Corinthians 10:13, The Message)
Lately, I have sure felt pushed past my limits. I’ve been overwhelmed…working hard, volunteering, helping other people, planning, training, leading workshops, reading, watching children, writing….this list could go on and on. I’ve been on this roller coaster of tired and energized and tired again. I’ve been anxious and contented. I’ve been disappointed and surprised. I’ve been overwhelmed and underwhelmed. I’ve been both happy and sad…and often at the same time!
Well intentioned folks remind me that God won’t give me more than I can handle. I appreciate hearing that. And yet I’m not so sure I agree! Hear me out now. It’s not that I think God is giving me more than I can handle. Instead, I’m just not so willing to ascribe everything I am doing or experiencing to God’s handiwork. Let me explain.
Sometimes I am just getting myself into doing too much! Sometimes I don’t say no when I am too tired and need to rest. Sometimes there is a problem or need that pushes itself to the top of my priority list above even my own self-care. Sometimes I just care too much. Sometimes the person or situation before me is struggling not because of anything God did but because of what another human being has done. In other words, I’m just not going to assume that ever situation in my life is a result of God’s doing.
The sentiment “God won’t give you more than you can handle” usually come from 1 Corinthians 10:13:
No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, NRSV)
But the sentiment above isn’t what the passage means at all. 1 Corinthians does not suggest that every situation in our life is God’s doing. And it doesn’t intend for us to assume that God will hold back from giving us more than we can handle.
Instead, 1 Corinthians 10:13 is trying to help us see that God promises to help us through whatever situations we are facing. As Adam Hamilton says in his excellent book Half Truths:
The promise of Scripture is not that we won’t go through hard times. . . . What Scripture does promise is that at all times, good or bad, God wants to be our help and our strength.
Another great way or saying this is:
God will help you handle whatever you’ve been given
So, whatever you are going through right now, however overwhelmed you feel, remember that it’s probably not all God’s doing, but God is certainly right by your side, hand open and reaching towards you to help you through whatever good and bad you might be facing. Grab hold of God’s hand and you’ll certainly be able to handle it!
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