Masthead header

Mythbusters #2: God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle


I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this cliche which is well-meaning, but not   very good theology:  God will never give you more than you can handle.  I suspect it’s a mashup of I Corinthians 10:13 (which is talking about temptation and sin) and too much time in the Hallmark store.


Regardless of its origins, it drives me a little crazy because it implies there’s a supernatural safety valve and don’t you worry, because when this battle gets really tough, He’ll fix it.


But for me,  it is tough and He hasn’t.  Fixed it, that is.  He’s been with us in it.  He’s gone before us.  He comforts us on the days when strength and hope are so far in the rear view that I’m sure they’re gone for good.  He has been with us in this fight and we’re so thankful but make no mistake: it’s is well beyond our ability.  Beyond, beyond.  Super beyond.


And that’s okay, because He excels at being God when I cannot and He has a pretty impressive track record.  Nearly every Bible hero I admire faced a situation far outside their weight class.  Come to think of it, so have the people I admire most in my world.  Something beautiful happens in us when we are outnumbered and in over our heads, so let’s not wish those moments away or pump platitudes at people who are suffering because we aren’t sure what else to say; let’s just be thankful that He will be in the fights that are most definitely more than we can handle.  Let’s, in fact, rejoice when we are given opportunities to live, love, battle and forgive in ways that far exceed our own abilities.


Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble…”  (and I’m pretty sure He’s talking about the Big Stuff — the Red Sea-meets-Goliath-meets-fiery-furnace type of trouble) but cheer up!   He has – ultimately and eternally – overcome the world.  Weeping may last for this moment, but heaven will have the last laugh.


Count on it.

August 12, 2013 - 8:23 am

Jane Williams - Love, love, love you keeping it real.

August 12, 2013 - 9:50 am

Mandey Tewalt - Bo, you are such a beautiful human being. You offer so much help for people like me. I thank you so much

August 12, 2013 - 10:02 am

Angela McGowan - This is my first visit here, but I’ll definitely be reading more. I just wanted to comment that I recently read (I believe it was in Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, but I’m not certain) that God does give us more than we can handle, but He never gives us more than He can handle. I had never thought of it that way, but I think that is definitely a truth statement, and it’s what is coming to mind as I read your post.
I will add you to my prayer list. Blessings to you!

August 12, 2013 - 10:15 am

Betty Yoder - Awesome ! If God never allowed more than WE could handle than we might not run to HIM when we should! Does that make sense–just saying.

August 12, 2013 - 11:37 am

Lisa Inlow - Thanks Bo, I needed to hear this today.

August 12, 2013 - 11:56 am

Nancy Ludeman - yes, yes, yes!!! Thank you, Bo …
By the way, do you take requests for myth busters? If so, how about “Love is blind” ……………………………………… NOT!!!

August 12, 2013 - 1:53 pm

jacquelyn strayer - I am so glad you addressed that…. I was so sick of that “saying”…. your words are encouraging….and true. Thank you.

August 12, 2013 - 7:40 pm

Valerie Caraotta - Bo, This myth buster is an excellent reality check as many of us just open our mouths and let fly out without really thinking of the reality of what we are saying. I guess too though that we have to go through deep pit trials to reveal the wisdom that you just shared. My goodness do you indeed share timely wisdom. When it is more than we can handle it further anchors us in Him which then produces a grace we never knew possible and an exchange of our strength for His. I pray today you will find His presence in a peaceful assuring way.

August 12, 2013 - 8:43 pm

Karen Styer - Thank you Bo for being such a warrior of the truth that you are never afraid to say what must be said regardless of its popularity

August 12, 2013 - 10:11 pm

Judy Hostetler - Well, yes, it is about time someone said it like it is! And thank you Lord that You can and do handle it when we can’t anymore! When I drop my hands and let Him do the heavy lifting and carrying all the way to the finish line of a race. We all know there are many more than one of those finish lines out there to reach, and each of us has our own specifically designed lane to stay in till the end of each race…

August 13, 2013 - 7:39 am

Chera - LOVE it….said this a million times in our stormy season… was big and bad and lasted a long time. He didn’t end it when we thought He should, or fix it, but He was in it with us.

August 13, 2013 - 7:44 am

Rene - Thank you once again, Bo. Sadly, my experience is that Christians can be more quick on the draw with cliches than others. Ah, for those that weep with those that weep! Silence can be uncomfortable, but presence with silence (or few words) can be such a gift, and such a sign of trusting the only wise King.

August 13, 2013 - 7:44 am

julie creek - Those words are spoken by people who have been there… NEVER!!! I call it “the get away line”… they say it and see how fast they can get away!

August 13, 2013 - 7:51 am

Patrick Farrell - About time someone with serious credibility confronted this lark of a platitude. Thank you for this, Bo. Respect!

August 13, 2013 - 9:28 am

Jeannie Hignell - Thank you, thank you, thank you. I really hate this platitude, and cringe when I hear it. God will give you more than you think you can handle … He does it with surprising regularity. But (and there’s always a but) … He is also with you every second as you go through the battles. He never said in His word that it wouldn’t be difficult … excruciating … sad … sometimes seemingly hopeless. He did say He would be there, walking with you, teaching you, uplifting you, battling for you. Our God is an awesome God!

August 13, 2013 - 9:31 am

Jeannie Hignell - Another one I hate is, “I know how you feel”. If you haven’t been there, then SURPRISE! You don’t know how I feel. When I had a pregnant 17-year old, when I had kids using drugs, when my marriage was in crisis, etc … unless you had been there, you didn’t know how I felt. Just commiserate with me, but don’t tell me you know how I feel.

August 13, 2013 - 5:48 pm

Ron Lupton - He does this to us: sends hard trials to believers and non, all the time. The very LAST thing God will send our way… to ALL of us… is death. And NONE of us will be able to stand it, or find a way out, believer or not. It is what happens to us NEXT that’s really important.

August 15, 2013 - 5:00 pm

Laura - Hmmm. Disagree with you here. I understand where you are coming from. That ultimately we need God but I don’t like the implication that s/he gives us more than we can handle. Because I think that implies a cruel God. The world is cruel, God is love. And to counter another commenter, the one person in my life who says this the MOST to me (and which gives me great comfort) is my mother who has gone through much hardship and heartbreak. When she says it to me I basically hear it as God made you STRONG and you are STRONGER with his spirit than you think and you can TRUST God, because s/he takes great delight in you (and comforts us with singing for heavens sake!). And THAT I take profound comfort in. Much love and comfort to you.

August 16, 2013 - 9:42 am

bo - Laura – I like your thoughts here and I mostly agree with your disagreement. 🙂 I totally agree that God is not cruel and that all He does is good (and I’ve had to defend that theology more than I ever thought I would.) So on that point, maybe “give” is the wrong word and “allow” would be better. However, I do think the Bible is filled with examples of God placing people in situations well beyond their own ability in order to show Himself strong in their weakness. I don’t see this as evidence of His cruelty, but His kindness in allowing us to come to the end of our own strength so we can tap into His.

I think my bottom-line issue with this particular cliche is the implication that God exists to keep my life manageable when I see no biblical (or personal) evidence of that fact. He is amazingly good, though, at working all the things that come into my life together for His glory and my good – and I hear that heart in your comment as well. Much love back to you!

August 19, 2013 - 4:15 pm

Jenni - Love this! Thank you!!
I am S…L…O…W…L…Y getting glimpses of this… The problem I come across is that I base His goodness on what I see of my circumstances – completely ignoring eternity. My view is so pickin’ limited. I don’t see the whole picture… I only see what is right in front of me. And if I based my Lord’s goodness on that – He doesn’t always look ‘good’ to me.
It isn’t about what I see though… although, if I look close enough – I get to see what Ann Voskamp calls the ‘ugly-beautiful’!

August 24, 2013 - 5:25 am

Terri - I SO agree with you. I go to II Corinthians 1 and read that Paul was pushed beyond his own ability to endure so that he might rely on God WHO RAISES THE DEAD. Paul hoped not in his own resources but in God’s. God was/is able to take a situation with no hope for human capabilities and do what only He can do. In this we have great assurance.

This is the first time I’ve read your blog. I’m so moved by your story. May God display His greatness in and through you and may you come to rely more and more on Him and His great love for you.