in various surveys throughout the years, the following quotes have been attributed by many as “bible passages”. their real sources are noted beside each one.

  • “God helps those who help themselves” – aesop’s fables/ Benjamin franklins’ poor richard’s almanac
  • “This too shall pass” – old English poem “deor” from 10th century
  • “A fool and his money are soon parted” from poem “Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry” by Thomas Tusser

there is another popular one that i hear often – “you know, the bible says- god will never place more on us than we can handle!”

this is usually an unintentional misquotation or “mis”remembrance of 1cor.10:13, which is not talking about hardships, but rather it is talking about being tempted to sin. the verse reads in part: “… god is faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond your ability…

paul’s point is that god will never allow us to be in any situation where our only choice is to sin. our choice may be difficult, but we won’t be left with sin as our only option.

but as far as trials/hardship go- not only are we never told in scripture that we won’t be tested beyond what we can handle-we are often told that we will endure things beyond what we can handle- with the intended result being, not that god has faith in our ability to handle the situation (as another saying goes “god has faith in my ability to get through this!”)- but that our faith and trust in him to get us through it (not necessarily out of it) will grow. some examples…

    2 cor. 11:23 – 30 – Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

Hebrews 11:35b-38 (speaking of those who are held up as models of faithfulness to god!)
 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Philippians 1:29For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake

1 thess. 3:4b-5 – For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.

1 peter 4:12-19 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

so it is clear from these that Christians are not exempt from suffering- but does scripture ever indicate that they will never be tempted beyond their ability to handle it? – no! in fact, it states the opposite!
in 2cor.1:3-10 paul explicitly states that he and others  were tested “beyond their strength” but god was glorified by exhibiting his strength in their weakness.

he never says “but it will never be more than you can handle”.

but scripture does tell us that when we are overwhelmed we can have faith in *his* strength working in us- through our weakness. that is his point as paul continues in 2 cor. 12:9-10  saying “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

1 peter 5:6-10 – suffering will come, but it is the lord’s strength that carries us through.

so at the end of the day, we can be thankful, not that god has faith in our strength or ability to make it through hardships, as if he is saying “you can do it!” but rather we praise him that he says “you can’t do it- but *i* can!” and that he is gracious to provide glory for himself, using our weakness to display his strength- all for our good and his glory!