Undoubtedly, we have all been there. Life’s circumstances have completely consumed us and we feel like we just can’t take anymore. Overwhelmed with our trials and the drudgery of day-to-day living, wondering when we will ever find relief, we despair of life itself. We never imagined that life would get so difficult or that our life’s circumstances would be so unbearable, and we question how we can possibly go on.
If you have ever been in this place, then you know from personal experience that the statement “God never gives us more than we can handle” simply isn’t true. This widely touted cliche is rooted in a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which states that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” This verse is speaking of temptations, not trials. In context of chapter 10, you plainly see that God is speaking of the Israelites “with [whom] most of them God was not pleased” (v. 5), and gives us the warning “that we might not desire evil as they did” (v. 6). Moreover, in speaking of the consequences for their sins, God says that “these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction…Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability” (vv. 11-13).
God has never said that He wouldn’t give us more than we can handle. And He has never said that the trials we endure will be bearable. In fact, Scripture even attests to the fact that we can be burdened beyond our strength. Look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:8: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” So if God does allow us to endure more than we can handle, then how are we to handle life’s unbearable circumstances? This is the big question!
The answer is found in 2 Corinthians 1:9, the verse following Paul’s confession that he and his fellow workers were burdened beyond their strength. Ponder closely what Paul says: “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” Do you see it? Paul says that as a result of being unable to endure, to the point of feeling that he “had received the sentence of death,” he no longer relied on himself but learned to rely on God.
This is exactly what we are called to do in our unbearable circumstances. No matter what we are going through, we can rely on God and trust in His strength and power to sustain us. Speaking of the thorn in his flesh, look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
When faced with the inevitable difficulties of life, Paul learned to rely on God’s grace and strength and power to sustain and strengthen him. We can learn to do the same. With God as our all-sufficient source and supply of strength and power, we can endure all things. No matter what we are going through, the key to overcoming our burdensome circumstances is not trying to be strong in ourselves, but letting God’s power and strength fill and empower us.
No matter what trials are overwhelming you, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ep. 6:10). God is bigger and stronger and mightier than anything you are facing, and you can trust Him to comfort, strengthen, and sustain you each and every day!
In God’s divine love,