When my husband was shot in November 2015, people would comment on social media, both on my accounts and in news reports that they were praying for us. We experienced the peace that intercessory prayer provides. We also encountered other people who commented, “Be strong! It’s in the Bible – God doesn’t gives us anymore than we can handle!”
What?! So this well-meaning but extraordinarily unbiblical platitude declared that we could handle a bullet still encased in his vertebrae? Searing nerve pain? Paraplegia?
Could we handle 9/11? Spousal abuse?
This comment suggests God the Father is sitting on His throne, saying, “I’ll give Terrie six different types of genetic migraines that mimic strokes and send her to the hospital – she can handle it.”
Or, “I’ll give that man cancer – he’s strong, he can handle it.”
Or, “That young woman in her seventh month of pregnancy – she can handle a stillbirth.”
We need to stop saying God doesn’t give us anymore than we can handle.
This common twisting of Scripture makes us little gods, doesn’t it? As though the handling of life is solely on our shoulders. We are not God. How dare we try to comfort one another by inferring that we don’t need Christ in the lowest points of our lives.
The verse that this comment butchers comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13. Paul wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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.” This verse is talking about temptation – not trials.
This verse says that when we are tempted, Christ is the way out. When we are led to sin, Christ gives us the Holy Spirit to sear our conscious and lead us from unrighteousness. Right after I accepted Christ as my Savior at 12 years old, I thought that temptation meant chocolate cake. That chocolate cake in the school lunch line was tempting me to eat it. Now, I know temptation still looks a lot like that chocolate cake: irresistible, enticing, it’s only temporary.
But any temptation that leads you away from God is not worth it, much like armchair theologians who try to figure out what the Word of God means without research or study – they lead others away from God and what the Bible means.
It is terrible when tragedy strikes. Sometimes it’s just enough to sit and hug someone going through unimaginable grief instead of serving up half-baked, unbiblical yapping just to be able to say something to help the grieving one feel better. Sometimes you can't make someone feel better and you're not supposed to -- you just need to be there.
When Greg was in the hospital after the shooting, and people would say to me, “God won’t ever give you more than you can handle,” I knew what they were saying had no scriptural basis. I knew they did not know any better, and that makes me sad for them.
But when someone tells that line to a nonbeliever, or a new Christian, or someone exploring Christ’s salvation, they are in effect telling them that God doesn’t care, and they don’t need Him. They are strong enough.
That, my friends, is the talk of satan – not a follower of Christ.
satan would like nothing more than Christians and non-believers think they don’t need Christ. I tell you, we have enough spiritual warfare in this world without adding to it because Christians don’t know the Word of God.
When we acknowledge that we need Christ, and therefore surrender to Him and His will, here’s what happens: we know that whatever may happen to us, good or bad, we need Jesus to get us through that thing.
If we believed that God never gave us anymore than we can handle, we would be highly tempted to believe we could do anything. It would be all about us. There’s a movement in the United States called “firewalking.” Like the name says, a bed of hot coals is prepared and people walk across this bed, which is between eight and 20 feet long, barefoot.
In the article “Firewalking as Spiritual Transformation,” writer Dan Beckett (who has participated in five firewalks) wrote, “For many who have walked, there is immense satisfaction in having done something that the world tells you is impossible. In fact, many firewalking instructors have the walkers write out on a card, ‘I walk on fire. I can do anything I choose,’ along with the date and your signature.”
This is a metaphor for today’s society. “I can do this; I can do anything.” This reinforces the idea that people don’t need Christ in their lives – they can walk on fire, they can do anything. God won’t give you anymore than you can handle – you can handle anything.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t handle everything. When my little girl asks me, “So when will Daddy walk again?” I can’t handle that. When I try to write the manuscript for the book I’m writing on the shooting and I have to put myself back in a time that I’d love to forget, I can’t handle that. I need Jesus. I need Jesus to help me parent my adult son with autism. I need Jesus to give me the words to comfort my teenage daughter. I need Jesus.
Listen: when we know we need Jesus, whatever happens will bring Him glory and not us. Isn’t that the point of a Christian life? To bring Him glory? Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
When we declare our weaknesses, Christ can use those. If God did not give us weaknesses, it would remove the source of strength we have in Christ Jesus. Think about that. When we are weak, and know we are weak and need Him, He will meet that need. We are therefore strong in Him. Not in ourselves. Philippians 4:12-13 states, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Being content in any and every situation comes out of relying on Christ for strength, not ourselves. When my husband was crying out in pain the night of the shooting, but with His hand raised and praising the Name because he was alive – that’s contentment. That is strength that only Christ can give at the exact moment it’s needed.
When we do that – surrender to Christ in the moment of need and rely on Him for strength and miracles – He gets the glory. Not us. Giving God the glory is worship, as it is mentioned in Revelation 14:7, “He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.'"
Giving ourselves glory takes it away from God. Friends, we need to stop saying that He only gives us what we can handle, therefore placing God’s glory upon us. Let’s look at Jeremiah 13:16 – “Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light, but he will turn it to utter darkness and change it to deep gloom.”
I love what Revelation 4:10-11 says, “…The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Instead of handling everything on my own, I would much rather lean on Christ and see what He will do with the stuff of my life. I long to take any crowns won on His behalf and place them at His feet. Isn’t that what we’re to do – bring Him glory? How can we do that if we handle everything ourselves?
© 2017 Terrie McKee
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