The Lord will never give you a burden greater than you can bear… umm, not quite!

The Lord will never give you a burden greater than you can bear... umm, not quite!

canstockphoto0196142According to the news, the economy is getting better. That might be hard to prove to some. Many are still struggling to get by, trying to keep from sinking deeper into debt, to keep their nose above the waterline. People, who just a few years ago had successful jobs find themselves on hard times. People finish school and there are no jobs there. Loans are suddenly due. Cars break down, appliances stop working, ceilings leak, dogs bite, collectors call.

People find themselves dealing with sudden illness. Not in just themselves, but those they care for, or those that were caring for them. Relationships fall apart, families split, loved ones die. Things keep going from bad to worse.

A Christian friend, hoping to give encouragement tells you, “God never gives us more than we can handle.” If you are down and anyone ever says this to you, please resist the impulse to take a poke at them.

This phrase never gives encouragement. On the contrary, it discourages. It tells us that if we cannot handle what’s going on in our lives, it’s our own fault because God gave us the means to overcome our hardships. It makes it sound as if God has already done what all he is going to do for us and now it’s up to us on our own. Girl Crying with Tear

The truth is, God often gives us more than we can handle—sometimes much more. To be more precise, God allows more troubles to come into our lives than we can manage. God never said that he would protect us from “too much” trouble.

The expression is so prevalent, isn’t it in the scripture? Kind of. In a letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminds the church that we are all tempted and all to often, we choose to do the wrong thing. But, he adds, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

Notice here that Paul is talking about temptation, not hardship. That’s where well-meaning people get confused. Paul is saying that no sin will confront us that is so great, we will be powerless to resist it. He is NOT saying that no hardship will ever come our way that we can’t handle on our own.

The promise we have is that God is faithful. We are not abandoned. It was not God who made this world sinful. It is because of His love for us, and those that come after us, that we are allowed to live in this sinful world. Depositphotos_41626745_rev

The world, as we know, is corrupted by sin. It can’t be uncorrupted. The only way to remove sin from God’s creation is to destroy it and start over—which is what God has promised to do on the last day. But God wants as many of us saved as possible. For this purpose, he has held off destroying earth to give us all, and presumably our decedents, the opportunity to become his children and avoid His wrath.

In the meantime, we have to endure a world of pain and hardship. But we are not alone. Not only does God walk beside us, so does the church of all believers. We are all in this together, and God has commanded us to look out for one another, lifting each other up, sharing each other’s burdens. (1 Cor. 12:26)

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Mat. 25:40)


Special thanks to Michael Hidalgo who expressed this idea much more eloquently than I.

David Brugge is a longtime member of Trinity where he serves as Elder. He is an author, teacher, and frequent contributor to The opinions expressed here are solely his own and as such are not the official opinions of Trinity Lutheran Church, its staff, or the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

  1. Thank you for this, David. “Bootstrapping” has its limits, thankfully God does not.

  2. I’m not quite sure that I quite understand the point. Are there some hardships that we can endure without Him? Do we go to Him for only the big league stuff?

    What’s the point of hardship in the first place? Sure, we all sin and deserve nothing better. But, we also know that even in the darkest moments of our lives, God has a plan for us. Hardship is not random; even in the greatest tragedy, somehow God is glorified. We have to cling to this, or we just end up screaming into the darkness.

    Hebrews 12:7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

  3. @ Dr. Morrison,

    >Are there some hardships that we can endure without Him?
    Yes, clearly one does not need to be a Christian in order to endure hardships.

    >Do we go to Him for only the big league stuff?
    No, of course not.

    >What’s the point of hardship in the first place?
    My personal opinion is that hardships are often random, a result of living in a sinful world. However, this article addressed hardships that are directed to us by God. We must admit that in our sinful condition, we cannot know or understand how this works, we can only make conjectures by means of what the scriptures say in other places.

    >I’m not quite sure that I quite understand the point.
    The point that I had hoped would be apparent is that we cannot do it on our own. Oft times, God allows hardships into our lives with the purpose of bringing us back into a closer relationship with Him.

    I was addressing the cliche that we can bear extreme difficulties because God knows how much we can endure and never gives us more than that amount. A corollary of this concept is that God has already equipped us with the means to endure the hardship. While well–intentioned, it oft times has the effect of saying, “Suck it up! God gave you the strength, you just need to try harder”.