Question: Is it true that the Bible teaches that God will never let you suffer more than you can handle?

The Bible does NOT say that God won’t give you more than you individually can handle, but rather,

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, KJV). The ASV translation says “that ye may be able to endure it. Whatever befalls you apparently is still there. But with the help of God, a disciple will be able to:

*endure, hupopherōG52967: hupo- “under” + phero- “carry [ferry]”; “bear under” or “endure.”

  Go to "ferry" in Greek & Etymology page 

Often, or at least sometimes, a person may experience a situation in which he/she just cannot take it anymore. “Father, I can’t handle this” or “Dear God, give me relief” or “Lord, deliver me from the walls closing in on me.” Perhaps life seems to be so unbearable. Someone might say, “You can handle it; God will not give you anything that you cannot handle.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 is often quoted. A rendering of the ASV and RV’s “such as man can bear” for what "is common among men" may have misled this teaching. But no translation tells us that God will cancel the trial or its discomforts.

Moses just could not take his grave responsibility anymore. It was given to him by God but it was too much for him to handle: “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.” However, when he prayed thus to God, God’s answer was:And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, … And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone(Numbers 11:14, 17).

A NT illustration is Peter’s walking on water to go to Jesus. Although Peter’s own choice put himself in the predicament of walking midst the thunderous sea, he found out as the saying goes that he had broken off more than he could chew. “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me(Matthew 14:30). He begged for Jesus’ help. The next thing that happened is the answer to us all: And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him(Matthew 14:31). Jesus did not abandon him for his unwise choice of trying to walk on the water.

Why did Peter want to experience walking on the sea?i We are not told the basis of his request. But like Peter, we may be responsible for making a bad choice. We may make physically damaging choices that even endanger our very lives. For example, later, Peter went innocently among the enemy where he almost got himself accused with Jesus in the judgment of death (Luke 22:54f). Unfortunately, he sinned to escape.

1. Causes of Troubles. On the one hand, we should carefully make the best and wisest physical choices lest we suffer needlessly. On the other hand, through no fault of our own but because of heredity and/or our environment, we will suffer physically, financially, and emotionally (consider Job, Job 1:1f). God is faithful to us in the midst of our hurting. Jesus metaphorically stretches forth His hand when we ask, “Help me, Lord.” According to our text the Lord will help us to ferry through it.

2. Herculean task . We may unwisely take on too many good works out of pride, peer pressure, or misguided goodness. It is called, Biting off more than he/she can chew.ii We cannot physically or emotionally do them as successfully as we desire. Again, God is faithful to us in the midst of our shortcomings. We should adjust our work, our expectations to our reality. Meanwhile, God will help us to ferry through it.

3. There is aI can do it on my own” mentality which makes us think that we ought to be able to handle anything on our own.iii Man’s temptation to be like god (Genesis 3:3) stands between him and sufficiency. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5, ESV). Whatever our lot, we must remember that we are not an island by ourselves. Like Moses (Numbers 11), God wants us also to reach out to others in His name when we need help. The Lord wants us to accept service offered from others. Peter at one time refused Jesus from washing his feet. “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me(John 13:8). God is faithful to us in the midst of our trials. He may send a person for assistance. He manages to help us in so many ways to ferry us through it.

4. Like a tent. Then there is the error that God ought to do something immediately to remove the trouble. But even Paul the apostle asked the Lord three times to remove his “thorn in the flesh.” But the Lord’s answer was, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength (power) is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). “Grace” means favor (Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man). Just as Jesus received favor from God which sustained Him in His human body (Luke 2:40), an obedient child of God can be assured that the Lord’s grace like a tentiv is upon him. Paul gloried in the opportunity to demonstrate the strength of Christ that rested upon him. “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me(2 Corinthians 12:10). Jesus gives us the strength to endure (Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”). God will ferry us through it all.

Never let someone discourage or shame you by saying that God gives you only what you can handle yourself. The Lord wants us to have faith in Him. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need(Hebrews 4:16).

Gaylon West

"Throw Out the Lifeline"

i https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/bad-choices.htm

ii https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/38103/proverb-or-expression-for-someone-taking-on-too-much

iii http://biblereasons.com/asking-for-help/

iv 2 Corinthians 12:9, rest: like a tent, Vincent’s Word Studies.