Last night at Bible study, the question was asked, “is it true that God will never give you more than you can handle?”
Many of us in Christian circles have experienced people hoping to encourage us by saying, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Christians commonly see this as an implication of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which reads:
“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.”
I’d like to offer another interpretation, and one, I think, is more in keeping with the rest of the Scripture.
Certainly, no temptation that any of us face is unique to us. And God’s faithfulness is unquestionable.
But God did not create us to be independent beings, able to fight sin and temptation in our own flesh. We live “in Christ,” who says, in John 15:4-5:
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Apart from abiding in Christ, even the least temptation will overpower us. So in this sense, God always gives us more than we can handle!. Because our sufficiency is in Christ, and not in ourselves.
Once again, Job is perhaps the paradigmatic illustration of this. Could Job have faced his suffering and remained blameless if he had been content with the moralistic advice of his friends? At best, it’s highly unlikely. As he receives their counsel, he becomes more and more repulsed by their easy answers and platitudes. As his torment grows, he rests in God more, and trusts in God more.
In a sense, Job is the “heroic ideal” turned on its head. Job endures. Job perseveres. Rather than winning glory through heroic deeds in battle and overcoming his enemies through great force of arms, Job just stands there.
God is the hero. It is God who vindicates Job. It is in Him that Job endures trial. Apart from the mercy of God, even the least dose of suffering would have overcome Job. But Job stands there, and pleads his case before God, and God vindicates him.
Our flesh profits nothing. But Christ has overcome the world. And it is only in Him, that we are able to overcome sin, temptation, and the devil.