By Rachel Baker
Like many people who were raised in the church, I grew up hearing people say, “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
I’m certain this is meant to be a word of encouragement for people who are attempting to survive difficult life events, but it doesn’t always have that effect.
Just follow this train of thought for a moment: If God will never give me more than I can handle, what does it mean if I currently feel like everything happening in my life is more than I can handle?
Am I not strong enough?
Is there something wrong with me?
Or maybe God is extra mad at me for some reason, and I’m being punished?
Did I do something wrong to make God mad?
Why does it feel like everyone else has it together, but I feel like I’m falling apart?
The Hero's Path
You might see that a statement intended to encourage can actually send someone into a wicked spiral of doubt and confusion.
Since we assume they are already in a tough spot, going further down into the darkness is definitely not the direction we want to send them. And who came up with that concept, anyway?
Who decided the high and lonely road was the hero’s path?
Too Heavy to Handle Alone
Hearing this soundtrack over and over can make you feel like you are weak or failing somehow when the hard stuff already seems overwhelming.
How does that catchy phrase fit into the picture when your toxic marriage of 11 years ends abruptly in divorce with two kids in the mix?
What does “handling it” look like when you’re suddenly facing a bone tumor, surgery, and long-term recovery?
Who decided that chronic, daily pain isn’t “more than you can handle” as you try to work and get through each day?
There have been too many events in life that have left me feeling like everything was much too heavy for me to handle alone.
Have you read 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 recently?
This passage is a balm to my overwhelmed, exhausted soul. The first time I really allowed the words to sink in, I was relieved to read Paul’s testimony:
“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself... But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.”
Did you catch that? The amazing Paul - a spiritual giant of the new testament church - admitted in written word that the pressure they were dealing with was far beyond their ability to endure.
They were in despair, unsure of how they could survive this. Why would they be going through such awful struggles? The best part is right there at the end...
It all happened so they would realize how much they needed God to carry it for them. They were carrying such a heavy load that they had no choice but to rely on God for support.
No one was telling them to suck it up and keep smiling because God wouldn’t give them more than they could handle.
When You're Drowning
We’re just not strong enough to deal with the darkness and hard stuff alone. I absolutely cannot handle all of the insanely heavy burdens this world throws my way... but God can!
Knowing that I can rely on His strength when I have reached my limits keeps me going through the darkest valleys. The Lord has carried me through so many unbearable seasons and revealed His existence and powerful love over and over again.
When you’re drowning in all the things, God will show up...
- by surrounding you with supportive family, friends, and scriptures that your heart needs to hear.
- by washing you in peace when you feel like you could drown in the sorrow and overwhelm.
- by sending people who are willing to step in to help when there is no way you can take care of everything by yourself.
- by providing you with strength to keep going each day when you don’t even want to get out of bed.
I think it can look different for everyone, but God has a way of showing up and shining bright into the darkness when we need Him most.
It might be a word or text of encouragement from someone, a song on the radio, a rainbow in the sky, or sunbeams through the clouds. Even that warm sip of coffee has a way of reaching right down to my soul and hugging me from the inside.
The Importance of Being Open and Authentic
Don’t underestimate the power of God to use you as a way of helping others who are carrying more than they can bear alone.
God has used His words to speak truth to my heart when I was drowning in fear and doubt, just like that passage in 2 Corinthians did. He has also brought other people into my life who have been through similar struggles and could share the burden with me.
I realize now more than ever the importance of being open and authentic with others. When we are willing to be vulnerable and share our personal struggles, we are more able to reach out and encourage one another through difficult times.
You're Never Alone
What is weighing you down right now? What can you lift up and ask God to carry for you? He’s literally just waiting for you to pass it off, and there’s nothing you have that is too heavy for Him to hold. The verse in 1 Peter 5:7 is very clear: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
You will absolutely experience more in this life that you are able to handle alone. The best news of all is simply this: You’re never alone.
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” - Psalm 18:16-19
Rachel D. Baker is a lifelong teacher, author, and speaker. She is passionate about empowering women who are overwhelmed with All The Things to create some breathing room and live an intentional life. She is a wife, special needs mom, coffee addict, and bookaholic. Her own life experiences have created a special place in her heart for fellow moms and chronic pain warriors.
Follow Rachel on her journey at www.racheldbaker.com and on Instagram @rachel.d.baker