God will never give you more than you can handle. I don’t remember how old I was when I heard it for the first time, but I do remember feeling relieved.
As a young teenager, it sounded reassuring and kind. However, as the years passed by, something strange started to happen. I began to realize adulthood wasn’t what I thought it would be. There was plenty of joy, but also plenty of tears—more than I ever envisioned for my future. My grand expectations caught up with reality and soon I began to question what I once held as true. I found myself married with three little boys and in the midst of the mess, I made a stunning realization: Life was hard and was only getting harder. I began to wonder: How much did God think I could take? How strong were my bones and how sturdy my heart? I wasn’t sure how much I could handle, but I still wanted to believe. So, I tried.
I tried to believe I could handle people dying.
I tried to believe I could handle chronic pain.
I tried to believe I could handle my son’s diagnosis.
I tried to believe I could handle marital strife.
I tried to believe I could handle my husband’s heart surgery.
I tried to believe I could handle our debt.
I tried to believe I could handle our miscarriage.
I tried to believe I could handle parenting.
I tried to believe I could handle my child’s special needs.
I tried to believe I could handle the pursuit of my dreams.
I tried to believe I could handle building a career.
I tried to believe I could handle disappointment.
I tried to believe I could handle it all.
But I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t carry the load. In that raw moment, I decided to let go of previous beliefs, all for the sake of pure, honest truth. I knew my God was good. I knew His love was real. But what if I had gotten it wrong? What if God actually did give us more than we could handle?
TAKE IT TO THE WORD
Whenever things get fuzzy, I take it back to the source of truth. God’s Word always needs to have the final say. It’s completely clear that this world is beautiful, as well as broken. It was never part of God’s original plan for us to experience daily pain and hardships. He also never wanted us to face the storm alone. God designed His daughters for connection. Yet when well-intentioned people tell us that God will never give us more than we can handle, they unintentionally place a sacred responsibility on us. They imply that our personhood and ability will determine how much God allows us to endure—that if we can handle more, He will give us more. But this reasoning doesn’t reflect God’s goodness and grace, nor point to the gospel. Instead, it sounds a whole lot like works and feels a whole lot like pressure.
I’ve looked through the Bible, searching for a verse that reflects this familiar ‘Christian’ phrase. I cannot find one anywhere. Instead, I come across imperfect people who feel like they are in over their heads. Kings who fall. Women who mourn. Disciples who run. But at the center of it all, I see a Savior who promises that when hardship inevitably comes, He will meet them in the mire and raise them up to victory.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV).
WHY WE NEED A NEED
Having needs is not a bad thing. Society likes to tell us otherwise, but friends, it just isn’t true. When we recognize our need, we allow God to enter into our trials and provide abundantly in ways only He can render. Sometimes it’s tempting to pretend we have it all together. We want to prove to others—and ourselves—that we can do it all. We may even pretend everything is okay because we believe we are a burden, that our pain is an inconvenience that deserves to be hidden. But in Christ, burdens are meant to be carried, loads should always be shared. Nobody demonstrated this truth better than Jesus.
As He walked His final hours on this Earth, Jesus asked His three closest friends to come with Him to the garden. Together they stood, and slept, near Him. They prayed with Him. They knew He was troubled and sensed His pain. As Jesus felt the weight of the world bearing down, He knew He couldn’t do it alone. He turned to His community for support, but His eyes remained on His steadfast Father. Even the Son of God knew real need.
One of my favorite verses is from the book of Hebrews: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV). These words show us the importance of our struggles, pointing us to the throne room of God. They direct us toward His grace and lead us into His faithfulness. God wants His daughters to rush to Him, especially on the days we can’t take one more thing. He wants to hold our hearts and dry all our tears. Our tender Father promises to take care of His children and sustain us when our world comes crashing down. As it turns out, our needs help us encounter Him.
BEAUTY IN WEAKNESS
Asking for help doesn’t mean we have failed. Surrendering to God doesn’t mean defeat. Instead, our faith makes us brave; our honesty makes us real; our God makes us strong. When we struggle with life in any form, our weaknesses are often highlighted. We may struggle with forgiveness, patience, anger, or fear. But we need to remember our weaknesses do not define us. Only God does, and He has already determined our worth. We are His—deeply loved and highly favored, holy and sealed in victory. We must remember these truths when we come to Him in our lack. He fills us with hope because He fills us with Himself. We can experience the sufficiency of God as He moves in our broken places.
“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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV).
How can we be weak and strong at the same time? Because when we have nothing left, all we have is Him—our miracle-working, sea-parting, life-breathing God. His power resurrected Christ from the dead, and now His Spirit lives in you and me. He emboldens us, encourages us, and builds us up in truth. He helps us walk out our identity as we claim who we were made to be. When we stop striving and let God’s ability replace our own, our weaknesses become something else entirely. They become the total strength of God.
The pressure has been divinely lifted off. We don’t have to perform. We don’t have to try harder. All we need to do is surrender, and the rest is up to Him.
Let’s stop trying to ‘handle it.’ If we feel like we are in over our heads, we need to look up instead. Our hardships may seem like they are too much and, to be honest, it’s probably true. But let’s focus our eyes on the One who always sees us through. Let’s embrace the arms of God as they draw us close to Him. We can trust in His love, His heart, and His plan. It is good and full of hope, with a perfect glorious end. He goes before us and stands behind us and lives directly within. There is no greater power and no closer friend. So, let go and believe it—I promise we will win. When life gives us more than we can handle, let’s hand it back to Him.
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