Gosh, that “Bible verse” (which doesn’t exist) makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. Why is it that one of the most quoted “Bible verses” is one that doesn’t even appear in the Bible? I believe there are several facets to this growing problem of quoting fake scriptures as though it is gospel fact: 1. Tradition–People are given a traditional view of who God is and it shapes the way we read the Bible and see God. A good God doesn’t allow bad things to happen to good people, right? Wrong. The Bible teaches that bad things happen to good people all the time. “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other” (Eccl. 7:14). Jesus promises that those who leave everything to follow him will receive 100 times the blessings. That’s it, right? Blessings for good people! Good children get good gifts from Santa God but naughty children get the lumps of coal from Santa God. Wrong. Jesus, after saying his disciples will receive 100 times the blessings, then throws in this little bombshell–“and with them, persecutions” (Mark 10:30). Yet our tradition falsely teaches people that God will not give us more than we can handle and that bad things won’t happen to good people, setting them up for disappointment when we are given more than we can handle.
2. Lack of Bible reading–People who don’t read the Bible don’t know the Bible. When people quote me this fantasy verse, I immediately know which verse has been twisted into this feel-good cliche. It comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13–“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.” The verse is talking about major temptations that the Corinthian church faced (idolatry, drunkenness [during the Lord’s Supper, yet to boot!], adultery, incest, prostitution, just to name a few). Paul is teaching Christians how to break free from the grips of temptation without making excuses for them. God will not allow them to be tempted beyond what they can bear. However, God does not magically remove temptation. They will still be tempted but God will provide a way out, a form of escape. There are options when one is tempted. The Corinthians can no longer say, “the devil made me do it.”
3. Misunderstanding of who God is–This is probably the biggest reason we misquote scriptures. We want to believe in a God that doesn’t allow bad things to happen to good people, so we reinvent Him to be that God! The problem is, whether we understand it or not, bad things do happen to good people all the time. Read 2 Corinthians 11 if you don’t believe me. Heck, read your entire Bible if you don’t believe me. So what about this fantom verse that we began with? Scripture teaches that God gives us far more than we can handle. Paul told the Corinthians about severe trouble he faced while in Asia: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by our prayers” (2 Cor 1:8-11).
God does give us far more than we can handle. But there is a divine purpose in allowing these things to happen. Hardships allow us to rely on God when we otherwise would not have. Notice the deliverance from pain and suffering is not immediate nor does it come by “praying away” our troubles. It requires a bond and partnership of prayer with others. The pain is still present in those prayers, but comfort, power, and healing come through those prayers. Our family is witnessing 2 Corinthians 1 in action. Many of us have despaired even of life, but we press on because others surround us with tears and prayers. I don’t believe God instantaneously removes our pain. We will hurt for a long time. But we have to rely on God now more than ever and He will be glorified. There is hope in suffering. But there is also pain. Let’s break the cycle of giving people a false sense of who God is by teaching that he doesn’t give us more than we can handle.