[Welcome to The Defense Series. The aim of this series is to help Christians more effectively “make a defense” (1 Pet. 3:15) to those who challenge the teachings and values of New Testament Christianity. Don’t be fooled by the title; this article is a rebuttal to the above quote. My prayer is that the following words will help and embolden you as you stand for Truth.]
God Allows More Than You Can Bear
Those who mean well sometimes say to those going through various kinds of life trials, “God will never allow more than you can bear.”
Yet the problem with believing this is that it is both wrong and unbiblical. This phrase, at best, provides a false sense of comfort, and at worst, plants seeds of doubt that can quickly cause unbelief. Sometimes God does allow more trials, more pressures, and more burdens than His children can bear.
Try telling the mother who is the victim of a brutal divorce – or the parents who lost their child to a drunk driving accident – or the man who has just lost his spouse to cancer – that “God will never allow more than they can bear.” Who can bear these burdens? I certainly couldn’t!
When someone who believes this phrase is faced with a trial bigger than his/her capacity, they are often left wondering why they can’t handle it. Some end up questioning their faith, while others develop a deep animosity toward God — all because they were told the lie that “God will never allow more than they can bear.”
What Does 1 Corinthians 10:13 Actually Teach?
There is a big difference between a temptation to sin and a life trial. Temptations are part of life’s trials, but not all of life’s trials are temptations. The Bible does teach that God will protect His faithful and diligent children of God from an overwhelming influence of Satan. The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:13, wrote,
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (ESV)
In other words, there is no temptation new to mankind (There is no new thing under the sun; Ecc. 1:9). Others have faced the same desire to sin. And God will not permit anyone to be tempted beyond his ability to bear, but with the temptation there will also be a way out. What a comfort! With God, I am released from the bondage of Satan (cf. Heb. 2:14-15)! Our holy God wants us to be holy (1 Pet. 1:13-16), and therefore has promised help to those who are living according to the Spirit (Rom. 8:1-11).
When Our Burdens Are Larger Than We Can Bear
We read of men in the Bible who were faced with challenges greater than they could bear. David declared, “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck!” (Psa. 69:1). Have you ever felt this way? When Elijah fled to Horeb due to threats against his life, the angel of the Lord told him, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you” (1 Kings 19:7). Paul said there were afflictions that Christians in Asia faced that were so “beyond [their] strength that [they] despaired of life itself” (2 Cor. 1:8).
Are we sometimes faced with problems and difficulties that are too much for us to bear? Yes!
We will be faced with more than we can handle by ourselves. God allows His children to experience trials because trials teach us to rely on Him. His love and grace and power “is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul said the trials the Christians in Asia faced caused them to “rely not on [themselves] but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:9). He realized that when he was overwhelmed with problems he couldn’t handle alone, he was forced to focus on the power and grace of God.
There is a great danger in believing you can handle life’s burdens alone. This is one of Satan’s lies. When we believe this, we fail to look to the Church for encouragement and support (cf. Gal. 6:2), and we fail to look to Jesus. Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). God allows trials so we can learn to better rely upon Him.