I’m sorry if that that sounds extreme, but I wanted to get your attention.

I have been blessed to recently meet a woman who felt free to share with me, for the first time in a long while, some tremendous trials and pains in her life. Her words shattered my heart, and I felt ashamed at the words” Christians” had spoken to her during these seasons of real pain.

“God never gives you more than you can handle.”

This precious woman has been through more afflictions than one can ever imagine — the loss of four children, the death of her young husband to cancer, a child with cancer and special needs, just to name a few. She was given this tired expression by so many that she actually wrote a book (she is a talented writer) about what not to say to someone going through difficulties. This platitude was at the top of her list.

I’m ashamed to admit that early in my Christian walk I too made this statement many times. I must have picked it up from others in my congregation. I didn’t know how to “do church” then, and not coming from much of a church background, I went along with it. It sounded good and somewhat Biblical at the time. But the truth is, this saying is NOT Biblical.

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First of all, God doesn’t give us sickness, pain, rejection, and yes, even death! God is the giver of life, health, and wholeness. He knows the day of our death because He holds the keys to death, hell, and the grave, but He did not bring death into the world. Sin brought death into the world, and through the blood that was shed on the cross, He provided a way for us to escape death.

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55 (edition)

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 (edition)

The source of suffering and evil is not God, but a fallen, sinful, broken world, and the work of the one who came to steal, kill, and destroy.

“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (edition)

“The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” I am the good shepherd.”   (Chapter and verses) NIV (Emphasis mine)

Jesus himself told the disciples:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b (edition) (emphasis mine)

So why, when we encounter those who are suffering, do we make this trivial statement and suppose that it will bring them comfort?

The two lies in this statement are:

  1. that God gives us these horrible things
  2. that WE have the ability in ourselves to handle them.

If I am wrong, show me the scriptures that would support those lies. Otherwise, maybe we need to just stop speaking unbiblical truths in difficult situations, and just be there for people. Without words of comfort that are scripturally based, why don’t we just choose to do that which is Biblical?

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those mourn.” Romans 12:10,12,15 (NIV)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”    2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV (emphasis mine)

I am convinced the enemy has used well-intentioned, but misinformed believers, to wound already wounded people. Fundamentally, this comment tells me when I am hurting, that God gave this (disease, crisis, loss, rejection, etc.) to me, but says I can handle it.

No, we could never handle the trials and pains that are part of living in a sin-sickened and dying world by ourselves. A better way of saying it (although I feel it is best not to say this at all) is, “God will never allow anything in your life that you and He cannot handle and walk through together.”

He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” Hebrews 13:6 (NIV)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”   Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” Isaiah 43:5 (NIV)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “e is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”   Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV)

 

I want to encourage you to take the time to note the scriptures you once clung to during the painful seasons of your life. Keep them with you so you can comfort those with the same comfort you yourself received. Often all that is needed is a hug and a listening ear. We cannot fix others’ problems, but we can show them love just by being there and providing a meal, a card with scripture, or flowers to brighten their day. We are the hands and feet of Christ and our job is to bring them the Good News. Jesus is the Good News in all the tragic situations we will ever face.

So love them and point them to the One who knows them best and loves them most.

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