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When God gives you more than you can handle

Series: Out of Context
Devotional: 3 of 4
Published: February 17, 2020

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

If you’ve ever heard someone say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” and wondered where that’s found in the Bible—it’s not. But this verse is where that lie is typically derived from.

1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” This, of course, is wonderful and true! As James 1:13 makes clear, God himself is incapable of tempting anyone.

But somewhere along the way, we took 1 Corinthians 10:13 way out of context to wrongfully claim that God will never give us more than we can handle. Nowhere is that promise found in Scripture, and I think we all know from experience that this cliché isn’t true.

The truth is that God may allow us to suffer or give us more than we can bear on our own so that we will trust in Him and He will be glorified.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul summarized his suffering in this way: “I have been in danger from rivers…bandits…from my fellow Jews…from Gentiles; in danger in the city…the country…at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches…If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness (emphasis mine). The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying” (2 Corinthians 11:26-31).

Paul was given far more than he could bear in his own strength, and he concludes this passage boasting in the things that highlighted his weaknesses. Why? So that all who heard his story of survival would know that it was the Lord who deserved the credit, the glory, and “to be praised forever.”

The lackluster product launch, the tyrannical boss, the sick child, the death of a loved one—all of this may indeed be more than you can handle in your own strength. Surrender these things to Christ. Not only that—boast in what you cannot handle. Boast in your weakness. Because if the Lord chooses to alleviate that particular suffering or solve that particular problem, He—not you—will get the glory.

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