We all love to quote sayings from books and movies. They get repeated over and over until we all believe they are factual renderings. Example: “Play it again, Sam.” Unfortunately though, Rick never says that in the movie, Casablanca.
We have some of those kinds of sayings that we believe are in the Bible too. The most famous one is “God never gives us more than we can handle.” As wonderful as it would be to lean on that bit of theology, it just isn’t Biblical truth. (It is a distortion of a passage in I Corinthians 10:13).
Truth is, there are lots of examples in scripture and life where men and women are indeed given more than they can personally bear. After the Old Testament prophet Elijah flees from the wicked Queen Jezebel, he expresses great fear and complains to the Lord, “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life…”
The Lord doesn’t agree with Elijah that he has had enough. Instead the Lord uses an angel to tell Elijah, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” The key was, it was too much for Elijah. It was not too much for the Lord.
As David struggled in his conflict with his enemies (Psalm 38:8), he declares, “I’m worn out, completely crushed. I groan because of my miserable heart.” He had had enough. He was spent. Done.
Again the key is to see that David was done, not the Lord.
There is also any number of real examples in our everyday lives of people having circumstances that are more than they themselves can bear. Picture for a moment a young couple grappling with the death of their newborn; a family staring at a burned out home; or a father standing alone beside the graves of his entire family. They are indeed experiencing more than they can bear themselves.
We do find ourselves in situations that are way beyond the scope of our ability to cope. But that is the wonderful part of this line of thought. When we reach the end of our own rope, God is there tying a knot for us to hold onto!
If you find yourself in just such a pit this week, don’t try to untangle the details and answer all the whys. Don’t struggle with applying a phrase that isn’t even in our Bible. Instead, remind yourself of the real comfort found in Matthew 11:28:
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…and you will find rest for your soul.”
God does allow us to encounter more than we can bear on our own. But He promises relief as we turn to Him. And He promises to join us on the journey. We are never alone, regardless of the intolerable weight we might have to carry-this side of glory.