Sometimes when you’re going through a struggle, people will say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” While people who say this mean well, it’s not Scriptural in regards to crisis and struggle. That verse is actually talking about temptation. The truth is that God gives us more than we can handle all the time. That’s what we’re going to talk about this week.
Highlights From the Episode
Sometimes when you’re going through a struggle, people will say things like, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” And while I’m sure people who say this mean well, it’s not actually scriptural in regards to crisis or struggle. So the verse is actually talking about temptation. And the truth is that God gives us more than we can handle all the time, right? That’s what we’re going to talk about this week. Let’s jump in. Hello there, my friends, and welcome back to this episode of The Renewed Mind.
I am Ashley Varner. I am a certified Christian life coach, but I’m also a wife, a mom, and a speaker, and I coach women in Renew 180, which is a six-month program all about transforming your life by renewing your mind. And this is a question that comes up a lot in my teaching and in my coaching where women ask me, “I thought that the Bible says that God won’t give me more than I can handle, but right now in this crisis, in this struggle, I feel like this is more than I can handle.” And so I want to share with you what I share with them because I think it’s so important that we see God’s word for what it truly says.
Jesus Calms the Storm
Let’s talk a little bit about his story with Jesus and his disciples. And I’m actually going to read quite a bit of it to you, and it is in Mark chapter 4, and I’m going to read about six verses. So it starts with verse 35, and it says, “That day when evening came, He said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ So leaving the crowd behind, they took him along just as He was in the boat. There were also other boats with them. A furious squall came up and the waves broke over the boat. So it was nearly swamped.
Jesus was in the stern sleeping on a cushion, and the disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drowned?’ He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, ‘Quiet, be still.’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him.'”
So I want to talk to you a little bit about this story, and really explain three points to this that we can really utilize whenever we’re in a struggle, or we are seeing waves, or in a storm in our own lives.
The Waves Were Out of the Disciple’s Control
And the first point is that the waves were out of the disciples’ control. The waves were out of control of anyone in the boat. The people were just along for the ride, right? They could do everything possible to try and stay afloat, but I want you to see that ultimately, the waves were out of their control.
So there are things in your life right now that are out of your control. You’re doing everything possible to stay afloat. But I want to suggest to you that worrying is not something that’s going to help you stay afloat. It’s not something that helps anything. Now, it can sometimes seem like the mature thing to do. It’s kind of like the saying, “Well, moms are supposed to worry.” Worrying can make us feel like we’re doing something useful when really it’s not helpful to us at all.
The Waves Were In Jesus’s Control
The second thing that I want to show you is that while the waves were out of the disciples’ control, they were absolutely in Jesus’ control. With three words, Jesus showed that he was in control, and he didn’t even have to use words, right? He is all-powerful, but I believe that he used words to build the faith of the disciples who were there, the people who were there.
Jesus could have stopped the wind and the waves right away, or he could have even told the wind and waves to die down and be still before they even got on the boat, so that they could have a peaceful trip. He could have done that, but he didn’t.
And my question is why. You know, sometimes people think that whenever you become a Christian, then every day is happy and filled with roses, and nothing bad is ever going to happen again. But that’s not true.
So the disciples didn’t experience the storm because they were out of God’s will. They experienced it right there with Jesus with them. I want you to see that just because there are storms happening in your life, just because things are hard right now in your life, it doesn’t mean that you’re out of God’s will.
Now, sometimes we bring consequences onto ourselves. I’m not saying that that can’t be the case, but if you are walking with the Lord, if you are knowing that you’re doing what He’s called you to do, and it still feels like there’s a struggle around you, it still feels like it’s more than you can handle, I don’t want you to see that as automatically being a sign that you are out of His will.
Because while the waves were out of the control of the disciples, they were in Jesus’ control.
Jesus Expected the Disciples to Not Fear
But Jesus expected his disciples not to fear, even though the waves were out of their control. And it was Jesus’ idea if you look at those verses again, it was his idea to go on the boat to the other side. God allows circumstances in our lives to be out of our control to show us our need for Him.
You know, like I started with this whole thing, and I mentioned how sometimes people can say, people will say things like, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” And they mean well, I understand that, but God gives us more than we can handle all the time.
Now, that might not seem like an encouraging word, but it’s true. And you might ask me, “Well, how can you say that?”
I’m not alone in my belief, because the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians, it’s chapter one, he tells the Corinthian church, “We don’t want you to be uninformed about the troubles we experienced. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure.”
So he says, “Far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.”
In Over My Head
Who has ever felt like that in a storm? I know that I have. “But this happened so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On Him, we have said our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” I love that verse because it reminds me that whenever I feel like I’m over my head, God is never over His head.
And if you think about this example. We have a pool in our backyard, and we have a three-year-old. This past summer, my husband was holding him in the shallow end. It’s about four feet deep on the shallow end. And my husband was holding him, and he started walking toward the deep end. My husband is about 6’4″. He’s a pretty big guy. And he was walking to the deep end, and he got deeper and deeper. My husband can swim.
So as my husband got to about the, maybe the five-and-a-half-foot level in our pool, my three-year-old started getting really scared. And I saw this, and it was really interesting to me because my three-year-old is obviously shorter than four feet tall. So at any time in the pool, anytime he’s in the pool, he is in over his head, right? It is too deep for him anywhere. But for some reason, as my husband was getting deeper into the pool, it really made my son nervous.
And I started to think about how that relates to our lives, and how at any given time in our lives, we’re in over our heads, right? Sometimes I tell my husband, “I don’t know how people make it through this life without Jesus.” And the truth is they don’t, right? That’s why there’s so much anxiety. That’s why there’s so much hardship.
But if we can trust in the four-foot section the same that we trust in the six-foot section, that’s whenever our faith starts to grow. Because we realize that yeah, God gives us more than we can handle. That we learn how to rely not on ourselves but on God.
What is “perfect love”?
In these verses, Paul says that he was under great pressure more than he was able to endure on his own. God gives us more than we can handle so that there’s no choice but to rely on Him. And the opposite of fear is relying on God. 1 John 4:18 says, “Perfect love casts out fear.”
So what is perfect love? What is this perfect love that John’s talking about? It’s the gospel of Christ. It’s the perfect love that He had for us to die on the cross for us. And so I want you to see that your faith in His perfect love is what’s going to cast out your fear.
So if you are scared, if you feel like there’s just more than you can handle in your life right now, then I want you to go to the one who has perfect love, the one who wants you to rely on Him. God wants us to rely on Him. That’s the hard truth that sometimes I think we forget. Sometimes we get so caught up in this idea of independence like I have to do everything on my own, and I have to show people that I don’t have to depend on anyone else. When really we were created to be dependent on Jesus.
That’s what Paul says. He says, I was under great pressure so that I would learn to rely on Jesus and not on myself. I want you and I to learn how to do the same thing. So whenever we hear this phrase, “Well, God won’t give you more than you can handle,” really what we mean is God is not going to give us more than we can handle without His strength. That’s the truth.
And so if we can start to change our thinking to agree with that truth, that that’s what the Bible actually says, that it’s for us to learn how to rely on Him, that’s when we can start to grow, and really grow in our maturity as Christians to say that it’s all about relying on Him. It’s all about doing what he has entrusted us and enabled us to do in His strength.
So I hope that this helps kind of explain some of the questions that you might have about this statement. I know that people use it out of context a lot of times. It is talking about temptation. God will not give us more than we can handle in regards to temptation. He’ll always provide a way out of that temptation. He’ll always provide a way of escape. But when it comes to struggle and crisis, those things are in our lives maybe by our own doing, maybe by a sinful world.
But God can use those things, those circumstances, those hardships, to teach us how to rely on Him. He is a great God. He’s able and faithful to be there for you to help you handle those situations. And I really hope that this teaching taught you that.
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