More Than We Can Handle EGP Blog post from November 10, 2013

When someone is going through a trying time, people will often say to them, “God will not give you more than you can bear.” While this may sound like spiritual comfort and is often regarded as Scripture, it isn’t either.

This saying is loosely based off , “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (NASB)

But we see here that the passage is talking about temptation, not suffering. One could argue, however, that suffering is, in a sense, temptation. One of the greatest examples of this is Job. Satan was convinced that inflicting suffering upon Job would tempt Job to curse and reject God (, ).

While many people are familiar with this part of Job, most of Job is a theological debate between Job and his God-fearing friends about why Job is suffering. In this time of great suffering (including the death of all his children), Job needed comforting, not cliché sayings and questioning the integrity of his faith ().

Job 16:2–6 ()

[2] “I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are! [3] Won’t you ever stop your flow of foolish words? What have I said that makes you speak so endlessly? [4] I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off my criticisms against you and shake my head at you. [5] But that’s not what I would do. I would speak in a way that helps you. I would try to take away your grief. [6] But as it is, my grief remains no matter how I defend myself. And it does not help if I refuse to speak.

So, why does God allow us to go through great suffering? We must be taken beyond our strength and abilities in order to be reminded of our dependence upon God.

2 Corinthians 1:8–9 ()

[8] For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; [9] indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;

2 Corinthians 1:8 I.e. west coast province of Asia Minor
2 Corinthians 1:9 Lit but we ourselves

In the end, Job had to learn that even if we do everything to the best of our abilities to be righteous before God, that we still need to repent from our sins and that God is the only one truly righteous, holy, and good.

Job 42:2–6 ()

[2] “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. [3] You ask, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me. [4] “You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ [5] “I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. [6] I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”