More Than We Can Handle

Have you ever really thought about the statement, “God never gives us more than we can handle?”

This statement sounds so encouraging and so comforting when we’re facing a difficult trial, but…

I don’t believe it’s true.

My living with ALS is more than Mary, and I can handle. I look around me and see others, even family and friends, trying to cope with difficult trials that they don’t seem to be handling very well. Others are trying to battle temptations like drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, and so many other “lures” that they don’t seem to have the power to conquer. Still, others are trying to fight what appear to be oppressive spirits that we call Depression, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, and too many other names to list in this short blog post.

It’s all too much to handle!


“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

The above verse is where the “God never gives us more than we can handle” saying comes from. The Greek origin of the word “temptation” (peirasmos), used in this verse, can also mean “test” and “trial.”

Pretty much every challenge we’re trying to cope with falls under the category of a temptation, test or trial. But, nowhere in the above verse does it say that “God gives us” these horrible tests, trials, and temptations.

The suicide rate in America has risen 30% since 1999, and deaths from drug overdoses are at an all-time high. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death in America for those under 55 years of age. So many people are dying from suicides and drug overdoses that the overall life expectancy rate has dropped for the last three years. This three-year decline is the most since World War 1 and the flu pandemic a hundred years ago.

Apparently, many people are going through difficulties that are more than they can handle. In this life, we will undoubtedly face tests, trials, and temptations that are “more than we can handle.” God doesn’t “give us” difficult trials, but, for reasons we can’t fully understand in this life, He does allow them to come against even the most faithful followers of Christ.

The Apostle Paul wrote the above verse, and also the passage below. The passage below gives us the biggest reason that God does allow tests, trials, and temptations to invade our lives. This passage also gives context to the “God never gives us more than we can handle” saying:

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

“Affliction,” “burdened excessively, beyond our strength,” “despaired even of life…”

Can you relate to this? Mary and I sure can.

Paul concluded that all of this happened to him (and to us) “so that we would (learn) not trust in ourselves, but in God…”

We will definitely face tests, trials, and temptations that are “more than we can handle,” but they are not more than God can handle – if we seek His help. Part of the grace that God gives in our tests, trials, and temptations comes in the form of people that He prompts to help us. I want to be one of these people, not only because so many people have helped us, but helping others when they’re overwhelmed by things too great for them to handle, keeps me from being “self-focused.”

Since becoming a follower of Christ, I’ve wondered why the non-Christian alcoholic, drug addict, and the suicidal didn’t give Christ a chance to help them overcome whatever their demons might be. “Do they think that becoming a follower of Christ is a fate worse than death?” I wondered.

It’s so ironic to me that many followers of Christ, people who were perfectly happy with the life they were living, chose to be martyred for refusing to renounce their faith in Christ.

The suicidal person ends his life because he has no hope, peace, and joy, while Christian martyr chooses death by refusing to renounce his hope, peace, and joy.

“Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

If it were true that ‘God never gives us more than we can handle,’ Christ suffered and died for nothing.

Picture from Amazingfacts.org

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ - Unshakable Hope!

Posted on February 16, 2019, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 116 Comments.

  1. “Apparently, many people are going through difficulties that are more than they can handle”
    Yes, they are, many.
    It has always settled uneasily on me when some people believe their faith is like a “get out of jail,” free card, as in monopoly, as if life is a zero sum game they can win, and God is going to hedge their bet.
    It feels to me that God does not exist to grant our wishes.
    But we may very well exist to grant his.
    Which is the ultimate hope.
    Suffering means we are closer to God when we live, and we will be even closer when we die.

    • So true, Cindy. In a way, I think it was easier for me to accept being diagnosed with ALS at the age of 36 because I never did believe that followers of Christ were exempt from life’s trials and tribulations. Those who believe that Christians get a “get out of jail free card,” must be reading a different New Testament than I read 🙂

  2. You are amazing!👍🏆

  3. I agree. We are given more than we can handle at times, to show that He is the One we need to look to. He can handle those burdens!

  4. Great post! I first questioned your opinion about God giving us only what we can handle but the more I read it the more your message makes sense. He does give us only what we can handle, but only with the help of God. Very inspiring post!

  5. Beautifully written! Thank you for your transparency. It is encouraging and reminds me to continue to surrender to Jesus. He is my strength in every season of life, the good and the difficult, life-altering trials, my hope is in Him.

  6. Well written Bill. Don’t you just hate it when people create a doctrine out of the Word of God that has been trivialized, paraphrased, misquoted or taken out of context!

    Like you, I have experienced trials and tribulations that were more than I could handle. And like you, I don’t believe it was God who gave them to me. And I agree that if we continue to seek God out , He is there in those times to help us through them.

    God bless you and Mary. 🙂

    • Thank you, Shari. Before making a commitment to follow Christ, I trivialized God’s word. I didn’t know scripture well enough to misquote it or take it out of context, though 🙂

  7. Thank you, Bill. It’s a matter of semantics…yes? I agree 100% that people are more likely to pray and ask for God’s help during the difficult times. It’s nice to have a daily conversation…just to touch base 😉 Hope you and your family are well.

  8. Dear Bill,

    Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems you’ve been given the gift of blunt truth–enhanced (bad word, I know)–by your experience with ALS. No time to waste; just get to the real stuff fast. I appreciate that so much, since my background, probably like yours, includes a huge truckload of this “God never gives us more than….” which really means you should just stop whining. Or something like that.

    Thanks for your visit just now. It’s so wonderful to have this connection with you and Mary–and Diane. And thank you for being present and accounted for when it wasn’t expected or necessary.

    Warmly,
    Elouise

    • Thank you for your comments, Elouise. No time to waste – so right. I do feel that sense of urgency, but I still have a lot of work to do on my time management skills 🙂

  9. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” – Psalm 34:19

  10. I’ve been dealing with Myasthenia Gravis for 10 years now. I don’t know why God allowed this, but I have become a better witness than I was before. Maybe that’s what he needed. It has progressed to where I am now short of breath. My husband has COPD, so we both huff and puff as we get around. I’m still trusting in the Lord to see us through.

    • There are so many unanswered questions, Connie. I do think that part of the reason that God allows trials is to turn our eyes from the temporal to the eternal. I’m sorry you and your husband are experiencing breathing problems – I know how difficult that is.

  11. As always, your combination of solid, insightful teaching and personal testimony create a powerful one-two punch, Bill. You are indispensable!

  12. I’m always glad to see someone correct this poor usage of 1 Corinthians 10. God will deliberately give us more than we can handle, so that we will learn to rest in him. Have a great day Bill!

  13. Amazing Grace! It’s the thing that gives us unshakable hope .Thanks for your brilliant “shine!”

  14. Amen! I’ve found throughout my life that there have been times—even when I was backslidden—that God would come through for me. No that I’m much older—and hopefully wiser—I know to turn to Him immediately. Without Him I am nothing.

    Thank you for your insight! Continued prayers for you and your amazing wife.

  15. Thank you again, Bill. Each time I read your blog I am lifted higher.

  16. Excellent post as always, dear Bill. 1 Corinthians 10:13 was one of the key verses I memorized over 35 years ago to help unlock the chains eating disorders held me in. God is good. The need for recovery is an opportune time for people to call on the Lord to be saved. He longs to hold us and help us.
    Blessings to you and Mary ~ Wendy Mac

    • Thank you, Wendy. I memorized 1 Corinthians 10:13, too. After the “Roman Road” verses, I think this is one of the first verses that new followers of Christ should memorize. I had many “chains” to be broken when I became a follower of Christ in 1983.

  17. Profound truth and artfully written, Bill: “The suicidal person ends his life because he has no hope, peace, and joy, while Christian martyr chooses death by refusing to renounce his hope, peace, and joy.” Your conclusion is spot-on too! Thank you for continuing to share your insights–which ARE God-given!)

  18. Bill, thanks for explaining this misleading quote with the truth of God’s word and with your amazing testimony.
    We can always trust our God to be our very present help “when” we face trials of many kinds.
    Thanks for another powerful post!
    Love and prayers💕🙏 to you and Mary.

  19. I didn’t read all the comments because there were so many, but it made my heart glad that there are still people with faith and ones who can knowledgeably express it.

    So, yes there are going to be times ahead that will get even tougher and we need to be ready for it. When the entertainment field and social media fills our young people’s minds with doubts and incredulity of anything spiritual, it is a hard battle for parents. I know my kids are seeing that in their children. My daughter’s children who once believed, now don’t. Their peers have such a strong hold on them and these peers were in their church! Parent’s rights are being gradually taken away, teachers for the most part no longer believe and they are the biggest influencers of our children and they are being taught to doubt God’s teachings and it will only get worse. Kids no longer know how to communicate but instead isolate themselves, so it’s no wonder there are violent outbursts and more suicides. There is no longer that structure that makes them feel safe. The biggest thing is to get back to basics. The scriptures provide the tools and through this and other Christian contacts we can build one another up.

    • I agree. Studies show that people who spend time on social media have much higher rates of depression. It’s so much more difficult to raise kids in the age of social media.

  20. Amen. I have believed this for many years. How sad that we are taught to believe so many foolish sayings, that have no basis in Scripture. Thank you for sharing these wise words of encouragement.

  21. This post brought tears to my eyes, Bill. I have family members struggling w/ overwhelming illness. I know that God does not abandon us during such trials. But He can feel far away at times. In our pain and despair, we may feel God has turned His back on us. He never though asks that we carry our burdens alone. Paul said, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Cor. 4: 8-10). Thank for sharing your hope in Christ w/ the rest of us. May He lend you His strength and support.

    • You’re right, Anna, at times we can feel like God has ditched us. I’ve been there. God tells us that, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). Regardless of what we’re going through, we MUST hold onto this. The greatest temptation (while going through a trial) is to doubt this promise from God. I know this promise is true!

  22. Love the connection you made at the end – martyrs giving their lives willingly vs. those who die in desperation. So sad!

  23. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

    I think the whole point of this is not that we won’t be tempted to sin beyond what we are able to bear, but that God won’t let it get to that point without also providing a way of escape for us so that we are able to endure it and yet not give in to it.

    Yet, I believe he already provided the way of escape through Jesus’ death on a cross in which he put sin to death on our behalf, so that, through faith in him, we can die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, in the power and strength of the Lord, and not in our own flesh, which is bound to fail us.

    For, in Jesus’ death on that cross he made that way of escape for us from giving in to the temptation to sin. He made it so that we can be delivered from our slavery (addiction) to sin, through faith in him, so that we are no longer under the control of sin, but so now we can be under the control of righteousness. We just have to yield to his Lordship over our lives and say “No” to sin and “Yes” to God and to his holiness. We have to throw off those weights, and daily die to sin and self, in the power of God’s Spirit within us so we can walk righteously before God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 5:19-21; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9, etc.).

    One of the big reasons so many people are still living in sinful addictions is because they have not taken the way of escape that God has already provided. They have not yielded their lives over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but they are still trying to run their own lives. And, when God does show them the “way out,” they refuse to take it because they love their sin more (John 3:16-21). For, God’s plan works if we truly are serious about getting out of addiction and walking in freedom from the weight and control of sinful practices over our lives. We just have to do what he says.

    Ok, so I was dealing with the scripture strictly in its context, for it was talking specifically with regard to very specific sinful practices, and it was letting the people know that they should not go the way of their ancestors in being idolatrous, in engaging in sexual immorality, and desiring evil, as they did. And, the point was that God/Jesus has and will continue to provide the way of escape for us out from underneath temptation to sin, but we just have to take the way out provided for us, which many do not do. And, then they wonder why they are still struggling. Not saying it is easy, but I am saying it is possible to be free from addiction, because God made the way, and his way is perfect.

    • Thank you, Sue. Making a commitment to follow Christ definitely doesn’t take our freewill from us, but it does give us the power and desire to overcome sin and the strength to sustain us in the midst of our trials.

      • Yes, Bill, we still have free will. We still have the propensity to sin against God as long as we live in these flesh bodies. But, through Christ we have the power to overcome the flesh, and the strength to endure and to live righteously, but it is our choice. But, there are consequences if we choose wrongly. And, that is what that passage in 1 Corinthians 10 was all about – warning against following the wrong examples of those who chose evil over righteousness, and warning of the consequences of those bad (wrong, sinful) choices, too.

        Thank you for reading my response, for posting it, and for replying to it. I appreciate your response very much. God bless you!

  24. once again, thank you.

  25. Thank you, Bill and Mary, I really needed this! Thank you for being so faithful in shining the light and love of Jesus so faithfully. I am especially touched by the ironic truth of these words: “The suicidal person ends his life because he has no hope, peace, and joy, while Christian martyr chooses death by refusing to renounce his hope, peace, and joy.” I found Psalm 33 to be of special encouragement this morning, especially it’s conclusion,

    “We wait in hope for the Lord;
    He is our help and our shield.
    In Him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in His holy name.
    May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in You.”
    Psalm 33:20-22

    All to His Glory . . .❤️

  26. I just pryaed for you

  27. It’s so very true that often the meaning of scripture is often taken out of context so the meaning is not accurate.

    I believe that God does not create our trials and do know that He is always with us as we go through them. Often I must admit that the process and timing of those difficult situations are not in my control but I do have moments when I wish they were. God’s timing is always right…. Diane

  28. I enjoy reading your posts. You write from the valley not from the mountain. God sometimes allows more than we can bear. So He can get the glory and not us. “Yet not I BUT Christ in me”
    God bless you and your family Bill.

  29. Hi Bill! When I was raising our kids with autism, I was often in beyond my depth. These verses plus others helped me during that time. our pastor this week wrote in his blog about the danger of self-reliance. Our helplessness is our prayer to God, if we turn to him. (O. Halle). Sometimes I forget the lessons learned in the thick with my kids. But my husband’s health problems in the last four years make me turn to God again and again. “God, I need your help…” is often my prayer when I don’t know what to do next. God knows we are dust.

    • “Our helplessness is our prayer to God.” That’s good, Ann. Believing we are “self-made” is deception. I mean, our bodies age and are fragile. You and your husband know this. I have so much respect for people like you and my sister who raise kids with autism and other disabilities. Caregivers are the best of people.

  30. Thank you again.

  31. Great post Bill! Keep up the good fight. Praying for you and your family…..Doug

  32. My heart goes out to those who suffer the same as we do but without Hope and Peace and Joy that are gifts from God. I agree that God gives us more than we can ha some on our own. We are backs against the wall right now and I’m waiting and watch Conf for God to work in our situation. A real faith thickening time for Mike and me. House closes on 28 March God willing and mIke still hasn’t heard back form 2 strong interviews. Scary for a man of 61! Though the fig tree….yet I will rejoice in the Lord

  33. Yes, God allows us more than we can handle so that, in the middle of our trials, we’ll come to Him for help. Even in Job’s tribulations, they all came from Satan who was trying to get Job to leave God’s side! You’re so right, God did not send them but He did allow them in order to draw Job closer to Himself! Thank you for your enlightening comments, they helped me see this picture more clearly! God bless you in your ministry of encouragement……..

  34. Powerful message Bill! Thank you for sharing so much wisdom with us. Please tell my sweet friend, Mary, hello! I love you both and thank God for you! I read Rick Renner’s devotion the other day about people who bring a smile to your face when you think of them. That is you and Mary for me! Don and I have been so blessed with y’alls friendship! ❤️

  35. Thanks for that great post! Yes, God allows trials that we can’t handle… It keeps us close to Him and we S-L-O-W-L-Y learn to only to rely on and trust Him. God bless you 🙂

  36. Bill, I’ll just go ahead and say it: Paul may have written that verse in 1 Cor. 10, but You could have! You and Mary are living epistles of the grace and sustaining mercies of God. The life lessons the two of you are learning could not have been learned from a book, but at the feet of the Master. As such, God is using the two of you to reinforce 1 Cor.10 to all of us in this hour.

    For all who have wondered how relevant the word of God is in this day, we need look no further than you Bill. By choosing to share your struggles and difficulties with all of us, your life has made the scriptures come alive in our hearts! How can we doubt when we have a living example of how to walk in the Word!

    Praying for you Bill. Not idle words my friend, but calling upon the Lord for you in Jesus name!

  37. A resounding AMEN!!! That verse in 2 Corinthians is the exact one I pull out when someone says that old “God won’t give us more than we could handle.” If He didn’t allow more than we can handle, why would we need Him? It’s knowing He can handle what we can’t that proves His faithfulness over and over and over again. Thanks so much, as always, for your perspective, Bill. You of all people surely know the truth of those Scriptures! I’ll be sharing this one…

  38. Bill, this is powerful. When heard that saying as a young believer, I often scratched my head and wondered what was wrong with me. Why wasn’t I able to be stronger. There was a sense that God must be so very disappointed with me when I crumbled under a trial. I wholeheartedly agree with you. We would not need to be in need of an omniscient and omnipotent God, if were able to do it for ourselves. I needed that reminder today!

    • I have done a lot of “head scratching” since becoming a follower of Christ 36 years ago, Heidi 🙂 I am glad that I was able to confirm that you are not alone in questioning this.

  39. Thank you Bill. You are an awesome servant of the Most High God, as you serve Him faithfully, and share His teaching on your blog. I agree with you and others who have been hearing that particular quote about “God not giving us more than we can handle.”
    When used improperly, it is frustrating to hear, but at times it does not seem like the correct time to respond. I may be wrong by not always responding, and correcting though.
    One thing about the quote us true though — our God will never give us more difficult challenges than we can handle— because our God gives us good things only. 😀

    • Good points, George. I think it’s fine to tell others that God will never give you more than you can handle – without His assistance. But, I still don’t like the “God gives” part.

  40. Bill…. was thank you for this. I just sent it to J. ❤️

  41. “The suicidal person ends his life because he has no hope, peace, and joy, while Christian martyr chooses death by refusing to renounce his hope, peace, and joy.”
    Well said! Both choose death, but this is the difference between taking one’s life and giving one’s life.
    Thanks so much for all that you share, Bill. I think of you often and find myself sharing with others how God has touched your life and used your life to touch others, even in the midst of an “impossible” situation. You are a living miracle, and I think you may be surprised when you get to heaven just how many people there have been affected by your testimony and ministry.

    • Thank you for your encouraging words. The sad thing is that the suicidal person would probably choose Christ if his mind wasn’t so blinded and confused. Sad. It’s the responsibility of the Christ follower to do our best to reach them.

  42. As a counselor, I’ve often used that verse “No temptation has taken you. . .” not to tell people that THEY are strong enough to carry it, but that GOD is. I believe one of the purposes of trials is to teach us to depend on God and not on our own strength wisdom, or ability. And my experience has been that He often puts other people in our lives who can help us through prayer, encouragement, and practical help.

  43. inspiring, motivating and uplifting post

  44. Yes, you are so right!!!!

  45. Wonderful blog of what our God can do. I wish I could reblog. Love in our Christ Jesus.:)

  46. Amen! This is really well said. That little distortion, “God never gives us more than we can handle” is one of my pet peeves.

  47. Bernadette Pfeiffenberger

    What grace and Wisdom God has gifted you with through your trials and temptations.

    So thankful, like Christian, in “Pilgrims Progress”, we can lay our burdens, trials and temptations at the foot of the Cross and He is faithful to carry them for us.

    Thank you for sharing your heart through God’s Wisdom and Truth. You are a blessing.

    God bless you and your family.

  48. Beautiful post Bill. I can’t stand it when people say this. We are definitely in that category of people who felt we had more than we could handle with Patrick and then lately with my unexpected emergent spinal surgeries. I cringe when people say this to people who are grieving as it is the VERY WORST possible thing to say to them. I understand the uncomfortable state people are in because attending a funeral reminds them of their own mortality. Instead I wish they would be proactive (for those who can of course); that approach helps everyone including the person who is reaching out and that helpless feeling being experienced by all is turned into a positive experience.

    I haven’t been around lately because of all that was going on in 2018, but I’m so glad to see this post and you continuing your outreach and teaching. This is your gift to us–to ME! I appreciate you. I also love you. God bless. Say hello to Mary for me.

  49. Thank you Bill for this message. I can’t imagine going through what you and Mary are going through. I can’t imagine being tortured for my faith. But then I remember reading a statement made hundreds of years ago by someone who was tortured for his faith. It went something like this: “I always thought of myself as a weak brother and never believed that I would be able to bear physical torture. But when it happened, God was there with me and took the pain away.”
    I don’t have to wonder how I would stand some hypothetical trial, all I need to do is trust in God’s grace for this moment right now. He will always be all I need.

  50. Hi Bill, I hesitated in responding because although I agree with you, I can’t in all honesty say that my dependency in God in all things is total. There are, I am sure, still areas within me that have not been relinquished as I ought. It almost seems that in some areas we have to have our backs to a wall with no where else to go other than to God, in order to truly depend on Him. Undoubtedly our own strength is not enough to meet some of the trials that can come our way and through God’s grace, many times, He has graciously stepped in and changed what we could not change. I’ve seen this in many areas within my own life, but just like the different layers that we find in an onion, it seems the more He strips away, the more that is revealed yet to be worked on. I’m thinking that this never ends as long as we are in these bodies. When Jesus told Paul that His strength was made perfect in our weakness, I have do doubt that this is true. But coming to a thorough understanding and acceptance of our weakness does not come easily in some areas. Pride and selfishness are areas that come to mind. I guess what I wanted to say is that I agree with you but I can’t say that I’m totally there yet. You had me thinking on this post Bill. It’s so good to see you. God’s grace and blessings to you and yours as always.

  51. Since becoming a follower of Christ, it has amazed me how life has gotten harder, more complicated. As a young believer, I thought He was the answer to everything–meaning He would fix everything now that I was His. What is true that He’s in it all with me, catching my tears and valuing them more than I do, holding me close, even when I feel distant from Him, loving me even when I know I’m not lovable. Your words are wise and insightful BECAUSE of what He’s walked with you through, because He has chosen to bless you with a trial you never asked for. Thank you for your truth, Bill.

    • Oh, Dayle, how naive we were to believe that followers of Christ had it easy 🙂 Life is complicated and we’ll all face challenges, but, as you said, Christ walks through the trials with us.

  52. You are so right in this post. God doesn’t GIVE us the temptations. Those come from the enemy and it is our choice as to indulge or not. There is of course things that happen that are not in our control, as you know, and it is then our choice as to whether we “cave” or lean on Him. Blessings to you Bill, and may the Lord continue to sustain you and your family with His love, hope, and peace. God bless you.

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