“God will never give you more than you can handle” is a common phrase we hear Christians say to comfort those going through hard times. But the truth is that many times there are things we face in life that are more than we can handle. In our fallen world we can struggle to find enough strength to: fight the unexpected cancer diagnosis, be a continual caretaker, grieve the death of a loved one, deal with results of a tragic accident, or face circumstances that seem to be spiraling out of our control. In our human weakness we struggle to have the fortitude to persevere through many of the difficult circumstances of life. In the difficult times it often seems God is allowing us to face more than we can handle, and the truth is that He may be.
The good news is, unlike us, God never lacks strength. And even the weakness of God is better than our strength.
…the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.1 Corinthians 1:25
However, the even better news is that God wants to impart His strength to us as His children. When we are weak, He wants to be our strength. When the circumstances of our lives become more than we can handle, He wants us to rely on His strength and not our miniscule amount of personal human strength. God wants us to acknowledge our weakness and rely on His strength to live faithfully through the hard parts of life—the ones that are too much for us to handle.
When we rely on Him as our strength and we come out on the other side of the difficult circumstance, we will know it was God who brought us through and not our personal fortitude. We should strive to serve, live, and rest with Christ as the source of our strength through the hard times, because the end results of whatever we do or face is that He receives the praise and not ourselves. Peter explains this to us in 1 Peter 4:11b “…If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
When we rely on Him as our strength and we come out on the other side of the difficult circumstance, we will know it was God who brought us through and not our personal fortitude. –Marcy Martin #strength #faithTweet
When we know we need God’s strength to handle a hard part of life, how do we attain it?
Prayer is the tool we see God use throughout Scripture to impart strength to His followers as they walk through difficult times. So rather than ask can we pray for strength the true question is how can we not? As believers, when facing good times and bad, if we want our lives to point others to Him and give Him the glory He is ascribed, then we need God to impart His strength to us via our prayers.
Perhaps the greatest example in Scripture of praying for strength was Christ’s prayer on the Mount of Olives before his crucifixion which is found in Luke 22:39-44. Jesus knew he was about to bear the sin of the world and die a painful death upon a cross. In the midst of His anguish, Scripture tells us Jesus prayed earnestly. Once again Jesus is the perfect example for us and demonstrates for us what to do in our difficult times—the times that are too much for our human strength to handle.
In Jesus’s prayer we see Him ask for the hard thing to be taken away combined with a submission to God’s will in verse 42: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” In the midst of Jesus’s prayer, we see His human desire that is much like ours to ask God to remove the difficult circumstance or task He has given us to carry out. We also see the sinlessness of Jesus’s heart that is willing to complete the will of His Father even when the task is too much to bear.
Jesus knew God’s will for Him was to submit to death on a cross to fulfill God’s greater plan for our redemption. And we see His willingness to submit to His part of the plan. Yet we also see the desire of God the Father to impart strength to Jesus to complete His plan as he sends an angel from heaven to strengthen him in verse 43 (NIV): “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” So while God may not remove the difficult times, especially when they are a part of His greater plan, He desires to give us the strength we need to handle them.
The end result of praying like Jesus for strength is a beautiful communion of submission on our part and God lavishing on us what we need to handle our circumstances. This life can be hard and we need God to be the source of strength, because we want Him to receive glory through our circumstances.