August 1, 2014

God Will Give You Much More Than You Can Handle

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times. It comes from well-meaning but biblically errant people, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” My first reaction is usually to cringe. Then I feel the need to correct the misunderstanding if they keep it up and insist its true. Making this statement to people is usually a strategy for bolstering self-esteem and morale. It allows a person to encourage others that are struggling through something and to pull up their boot straps and continue onward. It is usually done by many as consolation and to comfort those that otherwise may fall farther into a funk or give up totally.

It gives those that would believe this lie strength to face another day but it is a false hope. I will be up front. I’ve gotten wise to this fallacy or well-meaning error. We want to believe God is all loving at all costs and thereby we believe that He would never do something to us to make us struggle based on our perception of what loving and benevolence is. The problem is that many people believe that not struggling and always being happy in this life is a sign of God’s blessing. Anything else is therefore perceived as God’s curse. The Prosperity Gospel and Health and Wealth preachers are exceptionally guilty of this but so are many people with a misunderstanding of the Bible.

Here is the rub. If we go through life thinking that each new day will bring only what we believe we can handle because God wouldn’t inundate us, we are going to be sorely let down and in for a very unpleasant surprise. The idea that God won’t give more than we can handle might be what people want to hear but it certainly isn’t the truth nor is this found anywhere in the Scriptures.

Truth is what saves us and truth is what will bring us to the Cross and the Gospel…which is what we really need in these situations. So here is the truth: God will nearly always give us more that we can handle and Scripture is chock full of examples of this fact.

So where did the errant belief that God would take it easy on us come from? I believe this lie finds its origin in a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ~ “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, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Nowhere in this verse does it say God won’t give you more than you can handle. The verse is speaking specifically of temptation(s) not the ordinary troubles and struggles of life. God will give you the ability to endure or escape temptations not life's struggles. The truth is that once we have reached our end and need to go beyond ourselves where we cannot push ourselves…these are the exact places God intervenes supernaturally somehow for His own glory. It is here that we see why God will allow insurmountable things into our lives that we cannot handle. It gives God a place to show his true power and glorious nature. As Paul said, in weakness, He is strong.

2 Corinthians 12:19 ~ “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.”

As a matter of fact, it is exactly because Paul and others are pushed beyond their limits that they become such great examples of faith in Christianity. It showed that God acted on their behalf in grace and mercy. It is in this exact example of Paul and why he speaks of his overwhelming ordeal that we learn the exact truth which is both purposeful and useful for the Christian.

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 ~ “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.  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. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” 

Paul and his companions had been pushed well beyond their own strength(s) to endure anymore and they were at the point of death. They were therefore in the realm of God's grace. They did not despair even more and say, “Oh my! God won’t give us any more than we can handle!” No! They realized that God could indeed overburden them but they also knew in faith that He would deliver them. On this fact about God they placed their hope and did not despair. They didn’t place their hope in false platitudes like the lie we tell others today. They also turned to God in prayer. What they did not do is try to build up one another’s self-esteem with empty words. This is the diseased fruit of today's self-help mentality. They turned to the only One that could affect a positive change to their dire predicament. They turned to the Omnipotent God that was allowing them to be pushed beyond their limits because of the very fact that He was allowing the struggle to take place and He would provide the route of escape.

Only one question therefore remains: Why does He allow insurmountable struggles to come upon those He loves?

Simple. God cares about your eternity more than your present condition. He allows these things to come into our lives to strengthen our faith in Him and get us to realize that He is the only One we can turn to when all worldly hope is lost. Who will you look towards at your point of death?Although these look like the actions of an unloving or apathetic God, this again goes back to faulty human reasoning and the twisted way fallen men view God and His actions. It isn’t because God is sadistic and unloving but it is because He is loving that He allows our trials of this magnitude. So that is counter-intuitive you say? Perhaps for man it is counter-intuitive but in God’s reasoning it is needed and Paul already told us why. It was, “…to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” Paul is pointing to the supernatural goal line stand. This is all about eternity

The Lord pushes us over the edge of our abilities to deal with things specifically to show His glory when it comes time for Him to work through our faith in Him. A glory so great that it overcomes death and maintains us in eternity. Even when we are at the ragged edge. God really does become evident in our weakness because it shows it is nothing that we are doing and it’s all about Him. It also points us to prayer and when prayer begins to show that it works it increases faith even more. Then the floodgates of heaven open. This is the place of abundant faith and miracle. This is the place God is most prominently put on display in all His glory.

God...who specifically backed is people up to the Red Sea while being run down by Pharaoh.

God...who specifically pitted David against a monstrous Goliath. 
God...who specifically gave Gideon 300 men to fight the Midianites.
God...who put Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in a furnace they could've never survived on their own. 
God...who put Daniel in a lion's den with lions that Daniel couldn't control and eventually killed other people.
God...who allowed all humans except Enoch and Elijah to face death the unbeatable foe. Yet all have overcome this last foe. They have done so through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We as humanity have overcome due to our Advocate who died and rose again the third day in accord with Scripture.
Let’s face it folks. If we didn’t have unbearable circumstances in this life that threaten to sink our ships…where would the need for faith or God be? 

Absent, that’s where. 

Your struggles are essential to your faith because your faith is produced in the crucible of hardships you must endure. The heat of the crucible burns out the doubts that would have otherwise gained traction in an absence of suffering and faith

Without getting more than you can endure you are not forced to step out in faith. You are not learning to depend on God. You will not grow spiritually. We must see our obstacles in life as being placed there specifically by God for His purpose, not as impediments God left lying around to torment us. In the end we need to get to a place that keeps us in the crucible. A place where we could’ve never otherwise survived without God’s miraculous and supernatural intervention on a regular if not constant basis. 

To be able to stand in this heat requires supernatural faith. To have this type of faith we need to pour ourselves out as offerings to God so that we can make room for His Spirit to bolster and sustain our lives and push us from the mundane to the super-mundane. From ordinary to extraordinary.

In those crucible moments of truth, when we’re overcome with the need to alleviate or ease the pain we must accept that God will often offer us no easy way out. He might even turn up the heat of the furnace to get us to the place He wants us more quickly. Sometimes there just will not be a ladder out of the lions den to make life the way we want it to be. Perhaps that is because God doesn’t want our lives the way we want it to be? Perhaps it is because He wants our lives the way He wants it to be? The truth is that usually we want solutions to allay our pain. God wants us holy and pain may be one of the impetuses to get us there. Our solutions usually don’t bring us to God and holiness, they just bring us back to ourselves and temporary answers (therefore idols). God’s path or hardship usually solves problems permanently and bring us to Him. Therefore they bring us to holiness and life.

Perhaps we should stand longer in the fire of God’s sanctifying flame rather than always attempting to avoid it? Perhaps the fire will burn off our impurities?

Malachi 3:2-3 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.



D Schram said...

I live in the Bible belt and when anyone tells me to have a "blessed day" I always think of all the types of people in Matthew chapter 5 who are to be considered "blessed".

D Schram said...

Especially read this in the Message version and you will see what I mean.

Andy Pierson said...

Agreed D Schram. Thanks for your reply! :) #christianbrethren

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