“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
This statement is often spoken in an encouraging manner, but if you are the one in the overwhelming situation, it can seem almost trite and dismissive. There is some truth in this statement, but also a lot of assumptions!
First, who is to define what “you can handle”? One thing that I’ve noticed about myself is that I don’t really know what my limits are, and sometimes even my self-imposed limits can change from day to day! One day, I’m feeling energetic and upbeat, and I feel as though I can take on the world; the next day, I might be more tired and emotional, and suddenly everything feels like it is a huge deal. Isn’t it amazing how much our physical state can affect our emotions? Perhaps I am not the best one to define how much I can actually handle, but my Heavenly Father knows!
Second, and along these same lines, I have a tendency to put more things on myself than God actually intended. Some personalities are more prone to “overdoing it,” or signing up for every available activity, but I think we all know what it is like to agree to do something and then later feel immense pressure to complete that activity. There are some things that we get ourselves into that maybe God never intended for us to do. Knowing what our priorities should be in different stages of life can help us just stay away from over-obligating ourselves!
Third, beyond knowing what I am actually capable of handling, one of God’s plans for me is to be dependent on Him. My Heavenly Father wants to push me in areas beyond what I can handle on my own, because He wants me to turn to Him and rely on His strength. There are many Bible examples that illustrate this point: the life of the Apostle Paul is the first that comes to mind. There are also many verses that speak to this need we have. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God…” (Galatians 2:20)
As a Christian, God’s number one goal for my life is for me to be formed into the image of His Son. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Romans 8:29) This process will not be easy or pain-free, because it involves a lot of stripping away of the old man and building the character of Jesus into my life. This will necessitate some stressful and overwhelming situations, simply so that I can learn to rely on my Father! “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)
We could even say that if you feel like you have a handle on everything and like you have it all together, you had better watch out! Either you are greatly fooling yourself, or you are about to walk into a great trial of your faith where you will be stretched. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall…” (1 Corinthians 10:12)
“God won’t give you more than you can handle.” There is great encouragement to be found in this statement, if we remember that what I think I can handle and what God wants me to handle might be vastly different. And no matter how much I have on my plate on any given day, my precious Father is always there to strengthen me to do those things that I need to do.
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)