One of the more difficult assignments that we have as Christians is to offer comfort to people who are going through deep trials. Comfort that is both Biblical and helpful. It’s easy to offer a quick cliché but it’s hard to give genuine comfort that ministers to a hurting soul.
One cliché that we’re all guilty of – even pastors, is to tell someone going through deep trials that God will never give you more than you can handle. That statement has bothered me for a long time. Somehow it never rang true.
Think for a minute – what do we mean by that? Don’t we mean that the person will be healed and not die? Don’t we mean that it will all work out for their good in the end when sometimes it doesn’t?
If that’s NOT what we mean than why don’t we say, God will never give you more than you can handle but you might suffer for the next ten years and then die an agonizing death? Because that’s what happens to some people. Where was God and what happened to His promise?
Too many people go through too deep waters and don’t get through (in a very human sense).
I’m sure that we mean well when we say it. And I’m sure that we believe it to be true. After all Paul says that no temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13). That seems to make the case.
But does it?
Pastor Mitch Chase of Kosmosdale Baptist Church has written a great article with the title God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle (I stole my title from him – I just couldn’t think of anything more original!) in which he points out the problem with our common understanding of this verse.
You can find his article here. I’m not going to rehash everything he said because he said it so much better than I could. I would encourage you to read it.
There’s one line in his article, however, that I love: God will give us more than we can handle – but not more than he can.
That’s the truth that we need to share with people who are hurting. GOD CAN HANDLE THIS!
You might not be able to handle it, but HE can. So we turn to Him in faith in our times of deepest need and trust Him to bring us through the dark times.
We trust Him to do what is right in our lives. To do what we need Him to do to make us more like Christ. To change us by our suffering.
We trust Him not to be capricious but to have a purpose for our suffering. To have a reason for our pain.
The next time you have an opportunity to offer words of comfort to a hurting soul point them to Jesus. Tell them that He knows. That He understands. That He can be their rock. That when they’re weak, He’s strong. That when they can’t take it anymore, He’ll be there for them (working through you and His Word).
Put their focus on Jesus.
Stay in the Word