I have often heard the phrase, “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.” I understand the sentiment, that God is loving and gracious toward His children, that He knows us intimately and cares deeply for us. But believing the phrase can lead me down negative and self-flagellating roads.
Does it mean that I am a weak Christian because, in my opinion, I have not had any huge hardships in my life? Am I not devout enough to have a chronic physical issue or illness? Have I not been found worthy of caring for a non-typical child? Is my relatively normal life a result of shallow or brittle faith?
Thankfully, where the enemy has tried to whisper “unworthy” and “weak” into my soul, God has spoken truth to me. The Bible does not say that God will not give us anything we can’t handle. In it Jesus does say, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We also find “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2).
Nowhere does the Bible say that the truly powerful in faith will receive the majority of the hardships. Nor does it say that if your life does not contain a chronic issue or an unusual diagnosis, then it means that God did not think you were strong enough to handle it. In John 9, the disciples saw a man who was blind from birth. They asked Jesus if the man or the parents had sinned to cause his blindness. They, like many of us, seemed to believe that there was a specific cause and effect for everything that happens to us. However, Jesus responded with truth. “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him” (v3).
God has a plan for each of our lives to display His power and glory. He created us uniquely and, as such, our lives will not look like anyone else’s. God may want to use my life to show a specific attribute about Himself to me and to those around me that can be done best with my current circumstances.
Additionally, if God only gave us challenges we could handle, what would be our need for Him? It’s generally our belief in our own self-sufficiency that keeps us from a vibrant relationship with God. In my life, it has been the hardships that have led me to seek God more, to seek His strength, wisdom, and comfort.
We should not compare our lives to those around us in order to determine our value or strength as a Christian and a person. We should be faithful in prayer, seeking God’s guidance for our lives and trusting that He will give us what we need to best display His glory in our lives.