By Kari Adams
I've heard it said that "God never gives you more than you can handle," but is it a biblical truth or a feel-good platitude? Yes, 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that we won't be tempted beyond what we can stand, but that doesn't mean that life's circumstances won't be overwhelming.
Paul had an affliction that was more than he could handle, and he asked God to take it away three times. Elijah was threatened with death by the most wicked of royal couples, believed himself to be the last faithful man on earth, and prayed that God would take his life. Job had much more than he could handle when he lost everything and his wife told him to curse God and die. I don't know about you, but I'd classify being stuck in the belly of a giant fish, thrown into a fiery furnace, sold into slavery by my siblings, and asked to sacrifice my child as situations that are more than any human could handle.
God consistently allows His people to experience more than they can handle, and then He asks us to cast those cares on Him so He can handle it for us. He told Paul that His "grace was sufficient" and that His "power is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9). He gave Elijah sustenance and strength from one meal for a 40-day journey, reassured him of the 7,000 faithful others, and displayed His glory not in the might of wind, earthquake, and fire, but a low whisper (I Kings 19). He reminded Job of His power and might and not only restored but doubled all that he had once he had proven himself faithful (Job 42:10).
Having stress and trials that are more than we can handle are what help us learn to rely on God. That's why James tells us to "count it all joy" when we experience trials (James 1:2). There is no greater blessing than being so worn down with burdens too great for us that we have no choice but to finally force our stubborn hearts to let go and lean on God.
- Kari Adams is a professor in the music education program of Florida State University. She and her husband Jonathan live in Tallahassee, FL.