Does God give you more than you can handle? Some people say, “Nonsense, of course God gives you more than you can handle!” Others calmly point back to Bible verses like 1 Corinthians 10:13 and say, “No, God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
So which is it? Does God only give us what we can handle or does he give us more? And what does the Bible say about all this?
The Bible Says God Won’t Give Us More than We Can Handle “In Christ”
I think the confusion comes in when we misapply Bible verses like 1 Corinthians 10:13 which states:
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.”
With a quick read of this verse I can see how people would then say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” However, the way that statement is worded is misleading and does not capture the message of Bible verses like this. Notice it says “God is faithful . . . he will also provide the way of escape.”
So yes, God will not allow a Christian to be crushed by temptations or trials, but he does not do this by limiting the pressure but rather through supplying the power to endure and escape. What is “the way of escape”? Surely Jesus is always “the way” (John 14:16).
God will give people more than they can handle on their own, but he will not give Christians more than can be handled in Christ. If you continued to read in 1 Corinthians 10, verses 14-17 make clear that Paul is speaking to those who are participating “in the blood of Christ” and “in the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16).
Therefore 1 Corinthians 10:13 doesn’t say God will not give you more than you can handle; rather, verses like these say that God will not give you more than he can handle. You will be able to bear any burden he allows not in your own strength but because he is always available to strengthen you.
God Gives You More Than You Can Handle. God Does Not Give You More Than He Can Handle
If God gave us only what we could handle in our own power, he would be contradicting clear Bible verses highlighting our need for Christ. As Jesus said in John 15:4-5:
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. 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.”
However, if God allowed temptations and trials which could not be overcome in Christ, he would be contradicting many Bible verses pointing to the persevering power God provides to all Christian. Jude 1:24-25 states:
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all-time and now and forever. Amen.”
Therefore statements like, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” or “God will always give you more than you can handle” need to be explained further. Do you mean God will allow things which can be handled in your own strength? Never. Or do you mean God will give you things that you can handle because God is empowering you through it? Always.
General statements like “God will not give you more than you can handle” can be true or false depending on what you mean.” In summary, the Bible says you can do nothing without Christ. But the Bible also says true Christians will be marked by endurance and perseverance supplied by the Holy Spirit. If anything could separate you from God, God would be a liar (Romans 8:37-39). But if you could remain close to Christ in your own power, God will be liar there too (Ephesians 2:8-9).
God is not a liar, obviously. His word is true, and the Bible says that God will not allow you to be overcome by anything if you remain in Christ.
God Allows More Than You Can Handle So You Will Rely on Christ
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 gives us a great example of being burdened with too much in your own strength so that you will turn to God and receive his power:
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
Why does God allow us to be burdened beyond what we can bear? “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” So yes, in your own strength God gives you more than you can handle. But this only happens so we will turn to Christ and be made more powerful in him. When God allowed a thorn in Paul’s side, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 states:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
In your own power, you have no chance to handle what God allows to take place in your life. In Christ’s power, the enemy has no chance and God will empower you to handle what he allows.