Handle It

daddys-hand-8x10“God won’t give me anything I can’t handle.” – Ugh! I hate it when I hear this statement. I don’t think Noah could have handled the flood without God’s intervention and instruction. Moses wouldn’t have gotten Israel out of Egypt without the plagues that God provided. The walls of Jericho didn’t fall ’cause Joshua could handle it. They fell ’cause God handled it and Joshua obeyed. Would David have said, “God won’t give me anything I can’t handle?” He cries out to God regularly in the Psalms. He understood that he couldn’t handle it. We can’t “handle it” either.

The phrase is not a horrible thing to say. It’s not that it’s completely wrong. It just strikes something in me strangely. When people say this, they are trying to say that they trust God. They recognize that He is in control. However, it also makes me think that they might be confused about something. I mean – Do they think they can handle the situation? Do they think that God knows how awesome they are and that He is trusting them to handle it? Do they think God is acting as some sort of self-esteem booster giving them a vote of confidence in their own strength? ‘Cause I think that’s what our culture hears when we say it. Listen to it again – “God won’t give me anything ‘I’ can’t handle.” – It sort of implies ’cause “I am strong.”

I think God allows us into all kinds of situations that we can’t handle on our own. Sometimes I even wonder if He puts us into situations that we can’t handle? The key is – we can’t handle them “on our own.” We need His intervention. We aren’t relying on our own strength. We rely on Him. He is the provider. He is our strength. Yes – we can handle it, but only when we’ve got Him. The phrase we use leaves Him out of it in some ways. It places the power to overcome in the hands of “I.”

You see, when people use this phrase, some believe they are quoting Scripture. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says,

“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 a way of escape, that you will be able to endure it.”

This passage in context is talking about the temptation of idolatry – not every life situation that you find yourself in. Temptation, not circumstances. Yes – of course almost every circumstance can be reduced to some sort of idolatry so it sort of applies, but the critical part of the verse is not the part about our own “ability.” It’s the part about God’s provision and intervention on our behalf. We are to watch for His action – his “way of escape”, trusting that it will come, and then walk in faith into the “way of escape” that He provides. The power in this verse is in God’s hands, not our own. We are in need and He intervenes – providing a “way of escape.”

I’ve been through some things that I couldn’t handle. God allowed those things to happen to me. I couldn’t handle it when my dad died of leukemia. I couldn’t handle it when I lost my job and couldn’t provide for my family. I can’t even handle it when the lady in front of me at the grocery store has a bunch of coupons. The point is – I need God’s intervention. I need the “way of escape.” God gives me lots of things I can’t handle and I can choose to either let those things drive me closer to Him or drive a wedge between us. If I believe that the power to handle the situation is in my own hands, then I’m more likely to abandon God and go it alone. On the other hand, with a right understanding of this verse, I will look for His actions and be drawn closer to Him.

Friends, this is just sort of a pet peeve of mine. Instead of saying “God won’t give me anything I can’t handle,” please just say “God will help me through this one.” This way, my mind won’t launch into some ill-conceived idea that you don’t understand the Scriptures and that it’s my job to make you see it my way. I’m pathetic.

OK – My rant is over now. What do you guys think? Am I crazy? Am I reading too much into what people are saying or do you think there might be some misunderstanding as well? Are we communicating something unintentionally when we use this phrase?

18 thoughts on “Handle It

  1. Deana

    I could not agree more! I use to believe in that statement and say it my self. Until God called us into foster care and gave us two year old twins. We asked for one and got two, we prayed for a baby as fist time parents but received two year olds (one of the hardest ages). Then, trying to keep up with working full time, being a mom to the twins, being a wife to my husband, keeping up with the house work and the paper work (even though my husband helps it’s still a lot to Handel). And more so than those things there is the simple fact that I love these girls like they are my own and can’t Handel even the thought of giving them back and yet that very well may happen (only time will tell). I am not strong enough to handle being a foster mom, but God is!!!! He called us to this and He will Handel it! I came to the conclusion in Auagust when we got the girls that this statement drove me crazy. And people still tell me it once a week at least; every time I’ll correct them and say actually I can’t but He can!!!!! Glad I’m not the only one who can’t stand this statement! Thx for posting

  2. Todd Porter

    Excellent read, brother!!

    I love the way you equate the passing of our beloved “Pop” Corn to a woman in front of you at the store with a bunch of coupons. Haha!

    I get it. Love you, brother!

  3. Miranda Corn

    Next time someone says this sweet little phrase to you just remember, “God wouldn’t give you anything you couldn’t handle!”
    Hehe!! Just kidding babe! Love you and love that you’re writing again.

  4. Denice Lambert

    17 years ago, our minister told my sister and I, “God won’t give you anything He can’t handle.” Since then, I’ve always seen it from that perspective. Funny how changing one little word changes everything.

  5. Jan Googer

    I’m with you on this. I’ve never liked that phrase either. God gives me the strength and grace to “handle” my human frailties, if I look to Him. I can’t really do anything without Him.

  6. JoLynn Daugherty

    It’s funny you write about this. You are the friend I always quote when someone says that phrase. You made me aware a long time ago that we will have “stuff” we can’t handle. But God…..

    1. admin Post author

      Funny that you quote me ’cause I don’t ever remember saying that. Can’t really say I’m surprised too much cause it’s bothered me for a long time. Hope you have an awesome Christmas JoLynn. I know you will enjoy all the grandkids.

      1. JoLynn Daugherty

        I think we were having a discussion about this very topic “God never gives us more than we can handle”, and you told me something to extent of “well I believe when He does, that’s when He takes it from us and bears the weight of our burdens on the cross. That’s why He never gives us more than we can handle.” Something like that, anyway. It made sense to me so I took hold of it, and ran. 😊 merry Christmas to you and yours as well. 🌲❤🌲

  7. Marjorie King

    Yup. That sums it up nicely. And yes, it’s a pet peeve of mine too. How many times have I blurted out, “Of course God gives us more than we could handle! Otherwise we wouldn’t need Him.” And it’s normally someone who’s hurting and trying to figure out how to get through something too big for them. Oops.

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