God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle
Message by Dr. Rick Mandl at Eagle Rock Baptist Church, September 26, 2020
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA.
Sermon Manuscript: Dumb Things Christians Say Message 2- God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle
Sermon preached by Dr. Rick Mandl, Eagle Rock Baptist Church, September 26 & 27, 2020.Recorded in Los Angeles, CA.
Hey church family. Great to be joining with you, wherever you are and however you may be watching. Today we’re going to continue in our series, “Dumb things Christians Say,” by examining the oft repeated message, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” This week in our life groups we’re going to spend some time looking at 1 Corinthians 10, which is where I believe the germ of this idea came from. However, for today, we’re going to look at the clear evidence of scripture as to why this statement... “God will never give you more than you can handle” is 100% false.
Before we delve into that, I want to take a couple of minutes to explain why any of this even matters. I mean, what’s the big deal if we happen to say these things that aren’t quite true, especially if our intentions are good? Let me give you three quick reasons:
- Truth matters. Truth is a characteristic of God. Last week we looked at John 14:6 where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” If Jesus is “The Truth,”… And we are His followers, we need to be careful to speak truth. Paul is very clear on this in his letter to the Ephesians. “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Truth matters.
- God holds us accountable for the things we say. One of the most sobering verses in the Bible is Matthew 12:36, “You can be sure of this: when the day of judgment comes, everyone will be held accountable for every careless word he has spoken.” When we do not consider whether or not the words we speak are true, and Biblical, those are careless words and we will give an account for them.
- We do each other a disservice when we make this type of statement. What do I mean? Well, imagine that you’ve just lost your job… And then found out that your mother has cancer… And then your spouse announces that they want a divorce. It would be perfectly natural in that situation to find it difficult to get out of bed each day and put one foot in front of the other. In fact, any one of those situations might cause us to feel overwhelmed. Now imagine, as you are barely able to hold it together, that I say to you, “Don’t worry, God will never give you more than you can handle.” Right after you throw something at me, you might take a look at yourself and say, “If God won’t give me more than I can handle, then what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I handle this? Why am I struggling? Maybe I don’t have enough faith. Maybe I’m not a good enough Christian.” After a little more reflection you might think… “If God thinks I can handle this, I must have given Him the wrong impression. Maybe if I stop going to church… Drop out of my life group… Leave my Bible in the trunk of my car, and give up on praying, God will see me for the spiritual slouch that I am, realize I can’t handle difficulties, and only send good things my way.” Either way, this statement is unlikely to impart hope. It is more likely to lead to despair or a crisis of faith.
It’s important for us to speak truth to one another. It’s vital that we filter our words through scripture. It’s not enough that something has a kernel of truth or that it is a generally accepted saying, it must square up with what the Bible teaches. And the Bible clearly teaches this truth: God often, and purposefully, gives us more than we can handle.
One very clear illustration of this is found in the book of Judges. Beginning in chapter 6 we are introduced to Gideon. Judges is a sad book in many ways. It describes a cycle in the life of the people of Israel. The Israelites would follow God for a while, and then they would take their eyes off of Him, and look at the people around them and think to themselves… “They’ve got it better than we do, let’s follow their gods.” And so they would. Idol worship would creep in and the people who were to have “no other gods,” suddenly had plenty. But the one true God, does not let go of His people. So He would send a foreign power to oppress Israel. After some time in this oppression, the people of God would cry out to Him - “Help us!” And God would send a deliverer or judge to overthrow the oppressors. The Israelites would then follow after God for a while, and then they would take their eyes off of Him and look around and think… Things look good over there, let’s follow their God... And the whole thing would happen again, and again, and again. So in Judges chapter 6, we find that the Israelites had been suffering at the hands of the Midianites for 7 years. The Midianites had an ingenious plan. They would wait until the crops of the Israelites were ready to be harvested and then they would swoop in and destroy the crops and the livestock. In effect, they were starving the people. Judges Chapter 6 verse 6 states, “So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the Lord.” And God heard them, and answered them by setting a plan in motion that would clearly indicate that they were in a situation that they could not handle or at least, they could not handle without Him.
For 7 years Israel had lived in fear of the Midianites. And then one day, God appeared to a man named Gideon, who was in hiding, trying to thresh out a bit of grain for himself before the Midianites destroyed the little bit of wheat he had. As Gideon was there beating the wheat on the ground, to separate out the chaff. He is greeted with these words, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior!” And I’m sure Gideon upon hearing that, must have thought – “Boy, did you get the wrong guy, do I look like a valiant warrior to you? But God assured Gideon that He would be with him, and that Gideon would in fact, deliver the people. The next part of the story demonstrates how patient God is with us.
Take a look at this short video to see what happened: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U68cIMZSgvQ God reassured Gideon through the wet and dry fleece, and now Gideon is ready to gather his army. The Bible tells us that the Midianites were “like locusts.” Scholars estimate that they had around 150,000 men. When Gideon gathered his army, he gathered 32,000 men – this means that they were outnumbered about 5 to 1. And God said to Gideon – You’re outunumbered, 5 to 1, your army is too big. He told Gideon to tell his men, “If you are afraid, go home…” And 22,000 men took Gideon up on his invitation. They figured they were afraid, so they went home. Gideon was left with 10,000 men - they were now outnumbered about 15 to 1. And God said to Gideon - Your army is still too big! So God instructed Gideon to take his men down to a stream and tell them to take a drink. Depending on how they drank God told Gideon who to keep, and who to let go. Gideon was left with 300 men... Now they were outnumbered about 500 to 1. And God said to Gideon - Your army is just right.
Now you might be wondering, “Why did God reduce Gideon’s army so drastically?” Well, wonder no more - God told us His reason: In Judges 7:2 the Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength." In other words God said, “Gideon, I want you and the people of Israel to know, that you are in a situation that you absolutely cannot handle. I want all of you to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are in over your heads.”
Yet, even in the midst of this, we see God’s graciousness to Gideon. God says, “Gideon, If you are still afraid, take your servant down into the Midianite camp and listen to what they’re saying.” So Gideon and his servant crept down to the camp, and they listened outside of one of the tents. They got there just in time to hear one soldier tell another, “I just had the weirdest dream. A loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into camp, upended the tent and squashed it flat. And without missing a beat the other man replied... “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon - God has given Midian and all the camp into his hand.”
Well sure, obviously that’s what it meant - who wouldn’t have thought that. More than likely I wouldn’t have, and neither would you. But God gave those soldiers not just that weird dream, but the interpretation as well. And upon hearing that, Gideon’s faith was strengthened. He worshiped God and encouraged his men. Then God revealed His battle plan: God told Gideon, here’s the deal... I want you to Divide your men into 3 groups of 100. Give them Trumpets, clay pots, and torches as their weapons. Have them go up on three sides of the Midianite camp. Tell them that at your signal, they are to break their pots, blow their trumpets, wave their torches, and shout out loud, “For the Lord and for Gideon.” And that’s exactly what Gideon’s army did. And the Midianite soldiers reacted by drawing their swords, swinging them around wildly, and killing each other, and then running away. And Gideon and the Israelites knew that it was God, not them, who had won that battle. This is just one of many examples I could give you from the Bible that clearly demonstrate the truth that
God often, and purposefully, gives us more than we can handle. But there are also three corollary truths that I want to share with you. I hope they encourage you, and I hope you can use them to encourage others. The first is
- God will never give you more than HE can handle.
Listen to these words of Jeremiah: ‘Dear God, my Master, you created earth and sky by your great power—by merely stretching out your arm! There is nothing you can’t do.” The God we worship… The God Gideon served, is the creator and sustainer of the universe. Nothing is too difficult for Him. He is the God who conquered 150,000 with 300 unarmed men. He is the God who shut the mouths of lions, so they didn’t eat His servant Daniel. He is the God who daily sustained His people through 40 years of wandering around in the wilderness. He is the God who made a way for our sins to be forgiven so we could live eternally in a relationship with Him. There is nothing He can’t do, and He will never give you more than HE can handle.
- God will be with you in whatever He gives you.
This was God’s promise to Gideon as He sent him into battle: He said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” This was God’s promise to Moses as He told him to ask Pharoah to release God’s people. "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you; when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain" (Exodus 3:12). This was God’s promise to Joshua when He took over the mantle of leadership from Moses: "No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Joshua 1:5). This is God’s promise to us in sending His Son, Jesus, as a permanent reminder of His presence with us: "And they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, 'God with us'" (Matthew 1:23). Over and over in scripture we see God’s promise that He will be with us in whatever He has for us.
- God always has a purpose in what He gives you.
God’s purpose in reducing Gideon’s army was to prevent them from boasting that they had conquered Midian by themselves. He intentionally wanted to make them aware that it was only by His intervention that they escaped the bondage of Midian. God had a similar purpose in the Apostle Paul’s life when He gave him what Paul described as a “thorn in the flesh.” Listen to Paul’s testimony about this from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “...to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Paul had some amazing spiritual experiences. Things he might have been tempted to boast about. God wanted to keep Paul from that type of pride that would have poisoned his ministry by taking the focus off of Christ and centering it on Paul. So God allowed Paul to go through something that Paul, by his own admission, could not handle. Through this experience, Paul learned that he needed to rely on God’s power, and that it was God’s grace that would see him through. This made him better able to serve the people God intended for him to minister to.
In 2 Corinthians 1 Paul gives us another insight into God’s purpose in allowing us to go through difficult things. "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). In our difficulties, God gives us comfort. Not just so we can be comforted, but so that we can share that comfort with others.
I was reminded of this a couple of weeks ago during a conversation I had with my mechanic. It was the two-year anniversary of the tragic accident in which he and his wife lost their 8-year-old son. They had been vacationing as a family in Bishop California. The kids had gone swimming in the same hot spring in which they had swam countless times before. Only this time, while swimming, their 8-year-old picked up an amoeba, which result in him contracting encephalitis. It attacked his brain. It was a situation so rare that there are only about 8 cases like it seen in our country each year. The child was airlifted to children’s hospital. He received the best care that that medicine could offer and yet within a few days he was gone. And the family is left to grieve, with more questions than answers. And yet in the midst of their grief, they’ve made the decision to minister to others. My mechanic has told his friends, “If you hear of other parents, who experience the loss of a child, please give them our phone number... Tell them to call... We’d be glad to talk... We’d be glad to do anything we can to come alongside and minister comfort."
The Bible tells us that we won’t always understand God’s ways, for His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. But it does give us at least one more purpose for which God allows hardship in our lives, and that is to bring us to maturity in our faith. Listen to these words from James chapter 1. "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
Friends, when those around us experience suffering, and hardship, and tragedy, when we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and civil unrest, and a divisive political campaign, let’s not lie to one another by saying... “Don’t worry, God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Rather, let’s sympathize with one another. Let’s weep with one another. And let’s point each other to these truths. God often gives us things we can’t handle, but He never gives us more than HE can handle. God is with us in whatever He gives us. And God always has a purpose in what He gives us. We will not always understand, but we can trust God, who loved us so much that He gave His only Son on our behalf.
Let’s close with this passage from 1 Peter. This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong. Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. "You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls" (1 Peter 2:21-23).
Let’s pray together.
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA.
From Series: "Dumb Things Christians Say"
People have a lot to say, these days. On social media and among friends and family, we share opinions and advice freely. But sometimes Christians toss around statements that aren't exactly helpful or even biblically true. In this six-week series we’ll look at some of those spiritual urban legends and contrast them with what God’s Word actually says.