How many times have you heard the phrase, “God won’t put more on you than you can bear?” It’s always meant to be helpful and encouraging and is usually said to someone in great pain, to help them cope. It sounds good, and it sounds helpful, and it certainly sounds Biblical, but unfortunately, it isn’t any of those things. No where in the Bible is this statement found.
Pastor David Dykes, of Green Acres Baptist Church, in Tyler, Texas, has a great sermon series entitled, “NO! That’s not in the Bible.” It takes on a lot of quotes people say that sound Biblical, but aren’t. I encourage you to follow this link to search for those sermons in both audio and readable formats.
The reason I bring this up, is because this past Easter Sunday, Laura and I visited a church and heard the pastor say this very quote! We all have to be very careful of what we listen to and make sure that it always squares with what the Bible teaches, not just what sounds reasonable.
God says in I Corinthians 10:13 that He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but that isn’t the same thing. It’s a subtle difference from the wrong quote above, in that God always gives us a chance to do the right thing and not sin. He gives us an “escape pod” to get out of sinning in our moment of anger or lust, or whatever. It’s our sinful nature that causes us to give in to the temptation and sin. Unfortunately, people have twisted this verse to say that God will not put more on us than we can bear, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Why is this saying so wrong? Why is it hurtful even when it is meant to be helpful? Why should we never say it? Because the exact opposite is actually true! God allows us to be in situations where there is more on us than we could ever bear, and it happens all the time. How are we, in our human frailty, supposed to bear the news that we have inoperable cancer? Or how are we supposed to bear the loss of a parent, child, or spouse? How are we supposed to bear the weight of pressing debt, when all seems hopeless? If we are truly living for Christ, He most certainly will be putting more on us than we can bear by ourselves.
The truth is, we cannot bear these things, because life is terrible, sinful, awful, and ugly. It takes a merciful, forgiving, and loving God to get us through the toughest times of our lives. When we can’t stand on our own is when He comes in and takes care of us. God uses broken people to do the most amazing things. He loves broken people because they’ve come to realize that they can’t make it in this world alone and need to depend on Him for everything.
All through the Bible, there are examples of where God chose to use the most lowly person to do His will, the most unlikely, the most undeserving. People like a prostitute, a poor widow, tax collectors, fishermen, murderers, and so on, are the people He uses. Even Jesus came to Earth not as royalty, but as a lowly carpenter.
It’s always easy to love God and trust Him when we have a huge saving account, are in perfect health, love our steady job, and life is perfect. It doesn’t take much faith to follow God in those times. When the cancer comes, or the death in the family comes, or the job is lost and the creditors are threatening to take the house, and there is no hope left, we hit our rock bottom. There is nothing left for us to depend on that is Earthly. We have to come to a point where we are broken and can only depend on God to get us out of the mess we find ourself in. Is all this brokenness more than we can bear? Of course! That’s why we love, live for, and serve a living God. He doesn’t promise that life will be great, he only promises to love us and take us to our true home one day.
When we are at our weakest, God is at His greatest. The next time you are in the pit of this evil world, and there seems like there is no hope to escape, be ready to see God act on your behalf — He loves to do it that way. Resist the urge to share with someone who is hurting, that God won’t put more on them than they can bear, because God probably has put more on them than they can handle so that they can see God act.