How many of us have heard (or maybe even used) the phrase, “Remember, God won’t place on you more than you can bear?”  What is interesting is that while this phrase is wildly and radically popular, especially and unfortunately among Christians, it is nowhere to be found in the biblical text.  Not only that, but many will be shocked to find that the Bible actually teaches us the opposite!  Here is an excerpt from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church:

[8]For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;
[9] indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;
[10] who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,
[11] you also joining in helping us through your prayers, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed upon us through the prayers of many. (2 Cor. 1:8-11)

Notice the last part of verse 8, “that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;”  Clearly this contradicts the popular phrase completely and thus the two concepts are not reconcilable.  The phrase about not placing unbearable burdens on us may have originated from a misinterpretation of 1 Cor. 10:13, but once we read the passage what we find is that Paul is speaking about temptation, not burdens.  In speaking of temptations he says that God always provides a way of escaping the temptation.  So this isn’t at all related to burden bearing so to speak and we shouldn’t use 1 Cor. 10:13 to support the “too great a burden” phrase.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.”

All I hope to achieve in this article is emphasize the importance of growth as a Christian and that includes testing all claims to truth, such as the phrase in question, and see if they actually are instead of just believing them without any study or thoughtful reflection. Once we reflect on the phrase in question we can also rule it out deductively.  What I mean is that the way one grows and becomes stronger is through taking on a more difficult challenge, and facing more and more difficult challenges as we grow and mature.  Lifting weights is a great example.  The way one gets stronger is by continuing to lift a heavier “burden” or weight.  Without more resistance there will be no growth.  So it is with exercising godliness (1 Timothy 4:7) and growing in holiness and knowledge and wisdom, etc.  So if the popular phrase about God not placing on us more than we can bear is true, then it would undercut and make impossible growing in Christ, which also strikes down the foundation of practical Christian living, namely growth in Christ-likeness.

In closing, as Christians we should constantly strive to grow in Christ and be very blessed when we are faced with a difficult and trying burden, as this is where growth takes place and we, through Christ, grow into a fuller, more mature Christian.  So I want to challenge myself first, and secondarily those of you taking the time to read this article, to be thankful to the Lord and excited for permitting us to be able to take on more than we can bear so we can be stronger for Him and for others.  No wonder the apostle Paul writes:

[3]and not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance,
[4]endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.
Romans 5:3-4


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