By Associate Pastor Chad Adelmund Heartland Community Church, La Porte City
The Bible doesn’t say that!
This series is dealing with the reality that far more often than we care to admit, Christians actually do more damage by giving advice that might sound great, but in reality it falls short. The irony is we think what is being said is biblical and scriptural, but it’s not found in scripture anywhere. This false information can actually damage how people see God!
We start with perhaps the king of them all, so many well-meaning Christians give this advice to so many hurting people in their time of need and end up doing so much damage! Perhaps you’ve said this one before…“God won’t give you more than you can handle.” How many have recently felt overwhelmed by life? If feel like you are at the tipping point, and one more crazy setback might just put you over the edge! We all have, maybe you are not in this place today, but we all have or we will. Some well-meaning believer trying to help steps in and tells you not to worry it’s going to be okay because, “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
Sounds great, right? Here’s the problem, scripture never says that anywhere. There is this false idea that life gets easier after one becomes a Christian and in some ways this sounds right, and there is some truth in it. (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT) Then 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 at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Jesus promises His burden is light, in at least some sense promising to lighten our load.
Unfortunately, so many have the idea once I put my faith in Christ, He wraps me in spiritual bubble wrap, protects me from harsh realities of life. Even in my short time as a Pastor, I hear people disappointed with God because they thought He promised them better when they became followers of Jesus. They thought He would say yes to all prayers, solve all problems, heal all diseases and life would be perfect from then on. So where does this misconception come from? (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NLT) “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” This is the passage that led to this misconception.
Let’s talk about what that passage actually says. The Apostle Paul is the one who wrote this and he is a man familiar with suffering, Paul encourages us to remember God is faithful. That He will not let us be “tempted beyond what we can handle.” This is referencing a temptation to sin, not relieving us of heavy burdens in life and often it’s the burdens we face that overwhelm us and actually lead to the temptation take easy way out. Following Christ is amazing, but it’s not always easy.
Here’s a hard truth we need to grab hold of, God will absolutely give you more than you can handle. He will often allow you to have far more upon you than you could ever handle on your own. This misquote is often spoken out of kindness, but has created unnecessary confusion and guilt. It suggests God causes all adversity and trouble, God will never give you more than you can handle means it’s God who is giving you pain and suffering. This can easily leave people confused about who God is. Is He an angry God weighing us down with pain? Or is He (as scripture states) a loving Father who has plans to prosper not harm his children?
Secondly, it leads to emotional guilt because If God never gives me more than I can handle, what is wrong with me that I can’t handle this? This causes broken people to feel like failures. So many of us are under unbearable pressure facing tragedies in our lives and at our worst moment, someone, in attempt to comfort us, tells us God won’t give us more than we can handle. For some, the only thing we can conclude is that we are broken because we can’t bear this!
That’s not what this passage is saying. Will God let us be overburdened? Yes. Will He leave us lost in temptation? No. Here is the truth, human suffering is Universal. (John 16:33 NLT) “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
We will all experience hardship and suffering and it doesn’t matter how young or old you are, everyone experiences hardship. Many learn powerful lessons from it. The vast majority of pain and suffering in the world comes from enemy attacks or from consequences of living in a fallen world. God doesn’t cause all this.
God usually gets blamed for every accident and disaster. “How could God cause or allow that to happen?” is a question often heard. The reality is we are living in a broken and fallen world. As a result of the consequences of sin, suffering exists. A person who smokes two packs of cigarettes a day for 20+ years probably shouldn’t blame God when they get lung cancer. Humanity is living broken lives in a broken place and then God is blamed when broken things happen.