Stand on the scriptures, not cliches
The expression, “God won’t put more on you than you can stand” is an old cliché. Some say “bear” instead of “stand.” I am sure this is a first cousin to, “God said, ‘If you make one step, He’ll make two’” or its newest cousin, “God is good all the time and all the time God is good.”
There are a lot of clichés or proverbial sayings that are not in Proverbs nor the Bible. We may never know their origin. They sound good and catchy, but they are not theologically sound for everybody.
You can’t stand on clichés or proverbial sayings, but you can stand on God’s Promise. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15-18). When trouble comes, and it will, know scriptures that you can stand on. There is one for every situation.
If I know life, and I know life, I would rather stand on the Word of God than clichés or catchy expressions. “In the world you shall have trials and tribulations: but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
“And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15).
— Alberta McCrory, Gaines Chapel AME Church, Anniston
That saying can hurt more than it helps
I imagine that this idea might come from 1 Corinthians 10:13, which makes sense only IF it’s taken out of context: “… God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength ...”
This scripture is really talking about being involved in the paganism that was common in that time. Ultimately, I don’t believe that the statement, “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” is true, and actually has the potential to hurt more than it can help.
The fact is, lots of people of faith end up with way more than they can handle in life: the loss of a child, foreclosure on a home, an accident resulting in a disability that causes the loss of livelihood which leads to the loss of a home. In addition to that, many people suffer the consequences of other people’s sins, which then cause situations that are potentially unbearable.
To say that “God won’t give you more than you can stand” is to say that God caused those tragedies in the first place. Does God have the power to cause those tragedies? Of course. But what kind of God do you believe in? I believe in a God who loved the world so much that he gave his only son, so that whoever believes in him can have eternal life (John 3:16, loosely).
A God who loves us enough to die for us is not a God who would cause our children to die, is not a God who would want us to be invalids or homeless, is not a God who would want us to suffer. Most of the time bad stuff just happens.
Perhaps it is because of human sin in the world. Perhaps the terrible hurricanes we’ve been experiencing have been made worse by human pollution, causing the oceans to heat up and produce more violent storms. Perhaps more people are dying from cancer because corporate greed has polluted our food and has compromised our immune systems. Perhaps things just happen because that’s life.
But in the midst of all that tragedy, God is with us. God, in Jesus, knows what it means to suffer. God knows pain, and grief, and brokenness. God gives us the strength to overcome the hardships of this life, and when life eventually overcomes us, God welcomes us into His arms for eternity.
No, God probably does not give us the tragedies and hardships in our lives, but when we turn to God for help and answers, God can and does guide us through them, and will give us the strength we need to bear the weight of those troubles until we can see our way through.
— Rev. Laura Hutchinson, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)