"God will not give you more than you can handle."
"God won't give you more than you can bear."
"God never puts on us more than we can stand."
Wanna bet?! If we could ask Job in the Bible if God will allow more into your life than you can stand, what would he say? My family will testify that we have been through more than we can handle on our own strength.
This cliche creates all sorts of problems for us in the church. It is unbiblical, impractical, and deadly to our relationship with God. This is why...
The source of this cliche is a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 10:13. In its context, this verse is speaking about temptation, not circumstances. Here it is:
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. - NASB
The text is saying that when a true believer in Christ is faced with temptation, God will provide an escape, a way to avoid the sinful choice. Unfortunately, I very often choose the sin instead of the escape! The only way we are able to withstand the temptation, the only way we are able to endure, is through God faithfully providing the escape.
No where does the Bible claim that believers get a pass on bad situations. No where does Scripture promise that God only allows bad situations we can handle. We need God because we cannot handle it all. This is a good thing because He is smarter and stronger than us.
This cliche also brings us to the question of what does a loving, good God cause or allow. The ultimate answer to this is that we cannot always know what God has directly caused or instigated versus what He has allowed to happen. He is God, after all, and we are not. The struggle here is the age-old argument against the existence of God, that if God is good and all-powerful, then why does evil exist? Since evil exists, then God is either not good for allowing it or He is not all-powerful as He is unable to stop evil. The one raising this challenge often misses the fact they would have to cease to exist if God exercised power and goodness according to their definition. We cause evil by our own choices. If God really wanted to stop evil, He would simply wipe us out along with all creation.
We often make choices that bring problems of their own. God allows this very often. I also believe He intervenes and prevents us from making some stupid choices, but for the most part, He allows us to experience the consequences of our choices. As to circumstances beyond our control, such as Battens disease or storms, we cannot fully know the degree to which God causes verses allows. We also have no idea how many times God has spared us from a bad situation without our knowledge. How many diseases has He cured without our knowledge? I honestly doubt we can understand how those work together in God's plan. Either way, bad things happen to people of all kinds.
When we throw the cliche above at those problems, we set ourselves up for failure and misrepresent God and His word. This cliche creates an unrealistic expectation that we have to be able to bear anything that comes our way. This appeals to our rugged individualism dipped in John Wayne and Chuck Norris sauce! But it is unrealistic and impractical. We need God. We need others. Others need us.
Lastly, this unrealistic expectation disrupts our trust in God because it assumes a promise He never made. He never said we would face only the things we can handle. He DID say He would walk through those situations with us. He DID promise we could take heart because in this world we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world! He promised to sort all this mess out in the end completely. In the meantime, we can trust that He will walk through the valley with us, even the valley of the shadow of death, and that we would lack nothing we truly need for the journey.
But those promises are not realized by us pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps! They are realized by surrender and reliance upon the actual precious and very great promises of God!