God will not give you more than you can handle
There is a common phrase Christians repeat to one another in times of trial or difficulty. It is shared as a word of comfort or encouragement to press on. I’m sure you’ve heard it: “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
The concept stems from Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church when he tells them, “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). It sounds nice, doesn’t it? Whenever faced with a hard circumstance or an overwhelming situation, we can keep going knowing that we can handle it, because God won’t give us more than we handle. Well friends, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news: it’s not true. Let me explain.
While this Scripture from 1 Corinthians does teach a wonderful principle that provides divine encouragement in our Christian walk, it does not promise that we will be able to handle all of life’s troubles. Take a look at something else Paul told the Corinthians, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced…we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8).
I want you to read those words again: so utterly burdened beyond our strength. Clearly, Paul had more than he could handle. This fact leads us to an important truth: our strength to endure, whether it be trials or temptations, does not come from ourselves – it comes from God. That’s exactly what Paul says next: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (2 Corinthians 1:9). Paul then praises God for his deliverance.
Motherhood is more than we can handle
Today started like most days do around our house – the alarm rings at 5:30 a.m., followed soon after by the cries of a hungry toddler. Toast was made and milk was poured, and I sipped fresh coffee while trying to gain full consciousness before the busyness of the morning set in. After breakfast, my babies climbed into my lap for some morning snuggles and Magic School Bus, and I thought to myself (as I do most mornings), I wish I could stay here. I wish I didn’t have to work.
Soon, the flurry of getting dressed, brushing teeth, and rushing out the door had everyone on edge, and I began to lose my cool. As we were about to walk out the door, my daughter decided to antagonize her brother (as siblings do), and I lost it with her. There was yelling and crying, and I was left with the guilt of shame that comes from these moments.
This moment and others like it cause me to think, I can’t do this. I am a terrible mother. Why do I always end up yelling? I’m damaging them for life. There will be years of therapy tied to this single moment from her childhood. Maybe it’s just me, but I would guess that many of you have these moments, too (though maybe not as dramatic. I’m sure only one year of therapy will result from this episode.).
That is because we can’t do it, not in our own strength. Motherhood is more than you or I can handle. When we rely on ourselves for motherhood, we will remain doubtful, overwhelmed, frustrated, impatient, irritable, insecure and maybe even hopeless. But when we recognize that God is the source of our strength (Psalm 28:7), we are “more than conquerors” in Jesus (Romans 8:34), and that “everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4), we know we can have victory in this thing called motherhood.
God’s gracious promises give us the confidence that though motherhood is hard, anything that comes our way – sibling squabbles, potty accidents, strong-willed defiance, sleepless nights , seemingly endless whining – anything, we are capable, in God’s power, of overcoming. God has given you more than you can handle in motherhood, but he also gives you the victory in it. Are you trusting him for it today?