Rebecca Van Noord
“God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”
This Christian maxim is a well-meaning attempt at putting our difficult times into perspective. It holds the view that God knows our weaknesses and knows when we can’t measure up to a challenge. But if we’re going through trials, this same saying can be debilitating when we feel that we can’t possibly handle a situation.
The psalms often describe circumstances that leave the nation of Israel hopelessly struggling and helplessly in need of God:
“For you have tested us, O God; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you placed a heavy burden on our backs. You let men ride over our heads. We went through fire and through water, but you have brought us out to the place of abundance” (Psa 66:10–12).
Israel doesn’t often “handle” situations very well. Throughout its history, the nation chosen by God repeatedly rebelled against Him. Only when God gave them over to their enemies and they suffered through trials would they cry out for deliverance. Only when they stopped relying on themselves or foreign gods to sustain them would He come to their rescue.
It may be that God does give us more than we can handle. But this is actually—perhaps strangely—a source of comfort. If we could handle every circumstance, we’d never reach the end of our self-reliance. And it’s only when we get to the end of ourselves that we realize how much we desperately need Him.
Our trials give us hope. The people of Israel were “tried as silver is tried” (Psa 66:10). Just like them, we’ll be purified by fire. We will go “through fire and through water,” a process by which He makes us more wholly devoted to Him. And His work will bring us through “to the place of abundance” (Psa 66:12).
His faithfulness to us, even when we’re unfaithful, is reason to praise Him. And this is precisely the psalmist’s response: “Blessed be God, who has not turned aside my prayer, or his loyal love from me” (Psa 66:20). We see God’s perfect love for us in Jesus, who was obedient when we couldn’t be and suffered so we wouldn’t have to (Phil 2:5–8).
Do you think you can handle the troubles in your life? How can you see God’s faithfulness to you, even when you’re going through difficult circumstances?
This article was originally published in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.