There’s A Good Chance God Will Almost Kill You

When someone is going through a tough time we like to say, “Don’t worry, God won’t give you more than you can handle.” It sounds nice and is semi-inspirational, kind of like saying, “Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!” Kind of a Christian bootcamp, I’m in the Lord’s army, suck it up fella you’re gonna make it, saying. God won’t give you more than you can handle! You’re going to get through this! Bite the bullet, buckle down, suck it up, push through, dig deep, unleash your animal, huzzah, hip hip hooray.

One slight problem with this line of thinking: God will often give us more than we can handle. In fact, there will be times when God practically kills us. 

In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 Paul said:

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

God nearly crushed Paul and his apostolic companions. He allowed them to be so afflicted, so burdened, so overrun, so overwhelmed, so beaten down that death seemed like a real possibility. He brought them to the end of their resources and then kept pushing and crushing and grinding until Paul and his friends felt they were under a sentence of death. Did God give Paul more than he could handle? Yeah, I guess you could say that. God nearly killed Paul, and there will be times when he does the same thing to us.

Why does God do this? Is he some sort of sick sadist who enjoys tormenting helpless men and women? No, not at all. God burdens us beyond our strength so that we will be forced to utterly and completely depend on him. God gives us way more than we can handle so that we’ll stop trying to live a self-sufficient life apart from God. He brings us to the brink of death so that we’ll rely on the One who can raise the dead.

When we’re overwhelmed, beaten down, and worn out, we’re in a good place. We’re finally seeing ourselves as we truly are: weak, helpless creatures who desperately need God. When we acknowledge our pervasive weakness we can then receive the overwhelming, sustaining, empowering, conquering grace of God. When we put our face in the dirt before God we’ll discover the spring of His grace running just under the surface.

If you feel overwhelmed don’t take comfort in your ability to handle it all. Don’t try to figure out how you’re going to make it through the darkness. On your own you won’t make it. You can’t handle life. It’s too hard and too heavy and too oppressive. But we serve a God who causes old women to give birth and gives life to dry bones and raises the dead. Run to God in your weakness and bone-tiredness and despair. Rely wholly on him. Throw aside any foolish confidence you have in yourself. Drink deeply of his overwhelming, overflowing grace.

Will God give you more than you can handle? You better believe it. In fact, he might almost kill you. But he brings us to the brink of death so that we’ll trust in his ability to raise the dead.

  • justthe6ofus

    I love this perspective, thank you! Last year, four days before Christmas we were away from home living in a big city with a baby in critical care after she had undergone open heart surgery, and that day our 5 year old was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It was crazy and awful and there was no way we could have handled it. But through it we learned so many lessons about God's faithfulness and He showed us that we could completely trust Him each and every day. And even now after losing our baby last month, we can still say God is good! Thank you for spreading God's truth!

  • Joanna

    I kindly disagree…. 1 Cor 10:13 ESV "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."
    I think we both agree on our need to utterly depend on God but I don't think he gives us more than we can handle.

    • Guest

      I agree Joanna…and also the verse Isaiah 42:3 sheds more light on this topic as well. Sometimes it seems like people are just not satisfied with the plain teaching of scripture and they need to dramatize it or make it "better."

    • Judy

      I will kindly disagree with you. 1. This is talking about temptation, not all of the burdens of life. 2. The only reason temptation is not more than we can handle is because God provides a way out. So once again, it is dependent on God for us to be able to stand under temptation as well. If he did not provide a way out it would be indeed more than we can handle.

      Wait until you feel almost dead and you might change your mind.

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  • Mark Moore


    I think we’re talking about two different things here: suffering and temptation.

  • Briana

    I have and do live in this place, and it's refreshing to hear (read) what I have long time thought was a more biblically accurate picture of real life. I heard David Jeremiah last night on his radio program speaking from the account of Lazarus. He made a profound observation which likens what you wrote here. That is, God never said our lives wouldn't INCLUDE death but that they won't END in death.

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  • Eydie

    I wish you would not have stopped writing, I was just getting pulled in. Oh, how I have felt despair these last years, and think something must be wrong with me. Fortunately, found some good writing by A.B.Simpson, and others who tell the truth. We are not ready for what is about to happen, and pastors are not preparing their congregation for it. Let's be real. The world is getting darker and darker, and it is hard to find a Light. Thank you for ministering in Truth.

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