Over the past week, I have heard the phrase, "God won't give you any more than you can handle" many, many times. I have been thinking about this phrase a lot and I began to wonder about it's Biblical origin. Turns out, there isn't one. Nowhere in the Bible, does it say that God won't give us anymore than we can handle. It does tell us that God won't allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (I Corinthians 10:13), but that is different than God giving us more than we can handle.
On the contrary, I believe that God allows intolerable pain (consider Job). I believe that pain can be so horrific that we cannot handle it. In fact, I think that hurts can be one way He draws us closer to Him. The realization that I am utterly powerless to handle something on my own leads me to cry out to Him. Suffering with God helps us to rely on God during the mundane as well.
The Psalms are full of pain (as Dave Powlison says, most Psalms are written in the minor key). David frequently writes of this.
Psalm 69 begins,
Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire
where there is no foothold.
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.
By the end of this Psalm, however, David is praising God with song and offering thanksgiving. He writes, "for the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners."
Consider also Paul's description of the thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12. Paul asked God repeatedly for this thorn to leave him, but God tells Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
From time to time, God allows much more than we can handle--but He never give us more than He can handle.