When God Gives Us More than We Can Handle

Last week, I published a piece entitled I’m Not Enough — and Why It’s Liberating to Admit It. The message must have resonated with my readers, for within the first twenty-four hours, over 1000 people had clicked through to read the post. The gist of the article is that positive self-talk does not change the facts — repeatedly telling yourself “I am enough” doesn’t make it true.

Today, I want to focus on another saying that’s long been popular among Christians: “God never gives you more than you can handle.” Have you ever heard that one before?

Such a sentiment may sound reassuring, but it simply isn’t true.

You see, God routinely gives us more than we can handle. It’s His modus operandi — the way He naturally operates.

That’s because God loves using our weakness to showcase His strength. And He loves doing it in a way that leaves no doubt as to Whose strength we were leaning on in the midst of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Think about it.

  • If David had won a fist fight with a boy half his size rather than a death match with a giant who’d intimidated the entire Israeli army, no one would have lauded his bravery.
  • If Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego had been thrown into a jail cell instead of a fiery furnace, nobody would be surprised when they came out unsinged.
  • If five loaves and two fish had been used to feed five people instead of five thousand, the meal would have seemed mundane, not miraculous.

Yet in each of these situations, God gave His children far more than they could handle on their own. And He does business the same way today. That’s one reason our family enjoys reading missionary biographies. They serve as a reminder of the amazing things God can do through a life that is wholly yielded to Him.

I finished reading Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime aloud to my children just yesterday. It was my younger ones’ first time to hear this incredible true story, and they were completely mesmerized. “Just one more chapter? Please? Please?” they’d beg every time I tried to set the book down.

They marveled at how, after being kicked out of missionary school, Gladys scrimped and saved for years until she could afford to pay for her own passage to China, even trudging through the snow on foot through war-torn Siberia to get there.

They rejoiced that, when Gladys was left without any means of support to continue her mission work in China, the Mandarin hired her as his Royal Foot Inspector, to travel throughout the countryside eradicating the practice of foot-binding and simultaneously carrying the gospel to the farthest reaches of the province.

They were astonished that the Mandarin would send this tiny British woman into a prison to quell a riot that was so violent that armed prison guards were too afraid of being killed themselves to attempt to stop it. Since Gladys claimed to have “the living God in her heart,” they believed she couldn’t be harmed and therefore insisted she do their job for them.

My children sat on the edge of their seats as Gladys lead nearly 100 orphans to safety during the Japanese invasion of China during World War II.

This book recounts the adventures of a woman who accomplished more in her 67 years than most of us could accomplish in ten lifetimes. Reading the account of her years in China leaves no doubt: it would have been impossible for her to do these things in her own power. God obviously strengthened her for the task.

And He longs to do for us what He did for her.

Yes, God gladly gives us more than we can handle — but He never gives us more than He can handle.

How Do I Love Thee? A Devotional Journal for Wives

7 thoughts on “When God Gives Us More than We Can Handle

  1. NaTisha

    Thanks so much for posting this I can’t wait to share this with my husband. As a couple who has been through unsurmountable storms the last 3 years. We have come to hate when we hear “God doesn’t put on you more than you can handle” It literally makes us sick to hear. We know “our” power and we certainly know Gods power and the things we’ve had to conquer we would have thrown in the towel many times if not for knowing and having a relationship with the FATHER. Thanks so much again for your inspiring posts.

  2. Megan Gadd

    We just finished the movie: The inn at the 6th happiness! What an inspiring woman! Such a great role model for our 8 young children (11 & under). We also love the movie: Sheffey. Thank you for being a light to many. You have encouraged my heart many times. May the Lord continue to bless you for His glory.

    1. Jennifer Flanders Post author

      The book I mentioned in this post, Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime, was written by Janet and Geoff Benge. We’ve read several more of their missionary biographies over the years, including the stories of George Müller, William Carey, and Amy Carmichael, to name just a few.

      Gladys Aylward

      We liked those so much that my husband bought the entire set of the Benges’ biographies at a homeschool convention a couple of years ago. We are now working our way through all of them.

      In addition to these books, other missionary biographies I would recommend include:

      That last one’s not a missionary biography, per se, but is definitely an inspiring read.

  3. Scribbles by Steph

    Hi Jennifer, thank you so much for this posting. I really needed to read this. Things at work have not been easy as I feel like I am the one that needs to pick up the slacks of others and hence I have too much on my plate to handle. So was my thoughts. But after reading the bible examples you highlighted and Glady’s story, I feel very blessed that God has entrusted to me the work that I can do well. Thank you.

    1. Jennifer Flanders Post author

      I’m glad the post encouraged you, Steph. A change in attitude can make a huge difference in how heavy the workload feels, even if your coworkers never learn to pull their weight — though I’m praying they will, for their sake as much as for your own.


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