It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way — Chapter 7

When God Gives You More Than You Can Handle.

Did you know that the saying, “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” is not actually in the Bible? Nope. It’s not. Even though we’ve heard it “quoted” a million times, it’s really not in there.

(It’s actually a misquote of 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says God won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear because He always provides a way out.)

The truth is — in life there are always lots of things we can’t handle on our own.  In this chapter, Lysa shares that her shattered season showed her in living color that she could NOT handle all the hurt, all the broken on her own.

She needed God.

She couldn’t handle the marriage meltdown. Or the house issues. …And, not her cancer diagnosis.

Yes, it’s crazy to think that in all the HARD things she was already dealing with, she was also diagnosed and went through treatments for breast cancer. “Grief upon grief. Hurt upon hurt. Heartbreak upon heartbreak” (page 112).

She found herself resonating with Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 where he described one of the hard seasons he and his companions had endured, “far beyond our ability to endure.” Yet they could see, even in the middle of it, that it had happened so “we might not rely on ourselves but on God.”

Can you wrap your minds around that? Paul could step back in the middle of his pain to see that if the hard things had not happened, he would’ve kept plowing ahead and doing ministry on his own. The hard things of life helped him rely on God.

And that was a good thing.

I love Lysa’s response:

“God doesn’t expect us to handle this. He wants us to hand this over to Him.

He doesn’t want us to rally more of our own strength. He wants us to rely solely on His strength.

If we keep walking around, thinking that God won’t give us more than we can handle, we set ourselves up to be suspicious of God” (page 112).

The truth is we can’t handle all of it on our own. We must admit our own insufficiency.

And even when we can’t understand the WHY, we can trust God.

Lysa knew this in her mind, but her heart was having a hard time grasping the message. So, instead of focusing on all that she DIDN’T understand, she started a list of everything she did know. About God. About her situation.

And what she saw before her was a reality she hadn’t noticed before — if she and her husband hadn’t hit rock bottom, she would never have slowed down enough (remember, “Tan Feet!”) to make her mammogram appointment. And because she had the mammogram when she did, the cancer was caught early enough to be treated.

We can recall that Lysa believes and has seen firsthand that God has purpose for all that happens in our lives, so she encourages us to stop and question — what story are we telling ourselves?

The story that weaves the “woe is me” tale?

The story that begs us to fall into a dark pit, never to reemerge?

Or the story that acknowledges God will allow us to have more than we can handle BUT He will always have eventual good in mind for us.

And we get to choose which story to believe in, to listen to.

It doesn’t mean we have to like our circumstances. But it does mean our circumstances don’t have to dictate our responses or the outcome.

“God is making something beautiful out of my life. I know that. So, why question what He sees as the necessary ingredients to make my life stronger and more beautiful than ever?” (page 115)

Lysa points out that this “perspective” didn’t take away her cancer, but it did take away the feeling that she had to figure it all out on her own — it took the weight off her and gave her the willingness to release it to God.

“When we hit the place in our lives where we finally realize some things are truly more than we can handle, we will throw our hands up in surrender” (p. 117).

The catch is…we have a choice — will we surrender to the enemy, giving in to the feeling that “this isn’t fair,” to the thoughts that “God isn’t here, He isn’t good”?

Or will we surrender to God, giving up all that needs to be carried to our God, who will “not only carry it but use it for good” (page 117).

This choice of “to whom we will surrender” — the enemy or God — is a game-changer. In my own life journey, it’s been in those moments of greatest pain that I’ve found myself at that very crossroads. Will I choose the road of bitterness, giving in to all the pain and hurt and feelings of unfairness; or will I choose the road of faith, giving all I have into believing a God who promises He will never leave me, never forsake me — that He’ll help me and fight for me and hold me in His victorious right hand? (see Isaiah 41:10).

The first time I found myself at this crossroads, it was quite the wrestling match. It took months to get to the place of realizing I could not handle by myself the spiraling relationship I was in. I’d exhausted myself pulling out everything in my young arsenal to fix the relationship, to fix him, to fix me.

And it wasn’t working.

That’s when I reached for my Bible and found Isaiah 41:10.

Those words resonated so deeply within me that hope ignited for the first time in a long time. Only the hope wasn’t in the situation or the relationship. My hope was in God.

I chose surrender. I chose to trust His ways.

Was it painful to end the relationship? Yes.

Did my heart feel broken in a million pieces? Yes.

But hope sustained me. Trust in God strengthened me.

I had a promise from God, and I CLUNG to it. I chose to believe it because I believed Him. God had given me a new perspective in the middle of a situation that felt impossible.

“…We can surrender the weight of our longsuffering journeys to God by having  a higher perspective in our present realities. The seemingly impossible work of redemption is always possible with God. In other words, we need to remember the difference between news and truth.

News comes at us to tell us what we are dealing with.

Truth comes from God and then helps us process all we are dealing with” (p. 121).

Lysa’s diagnosis was news. But God’s truth “transcends news” (p. 121). What seems (or is) impossible for all of us, is actually possible for God. “Truth is what factors God into the equation” (p. 121).

“Instead of saying God won’t give me more than I can handle, maybe I can just simply say, ‘God’s got a handle on all I’m facing'” (p. 122).

So, whatever NEWS you have gotten (or will get), remember it’s not the TRUTH. God’s truth transcends, saying things like:

I am the way and the truth and the life. (John 14:6)

I am forever faithful. (Psalm 146:6)

I am with you. (Isaiah 41:10)

I am holding you. (Psalm 73:23)

I am your hiding place. (Psalm 32:7)

I pray that whatever you face today — old news or new — that you’ll choose the road of faith. Faith in God, who is your help and truth. God, who is for you and never against you. God, who sees you and will work out things for good. God, who will have purpose and will give you perspective.

One of my go-to passages is from Psalm 25:4-5, and I recite it any time I find myself needing direction or being tempted to forge my own way.

Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.

Let God’s truths, His promises be your anchor, your guide. Allow them to pour over you and be your peace. God’s Word — it is our truth. We can choose His way…every day.

Choosing His way today, Shelley Johnson

Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

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