Ah, the theological platitudes of Hallmark Christianity. Statements like these are quoted so often that they’re generally regarded as biblical truth:
God helps those who help themselves.
God won’t give you more than you can handle.
Cleanliness is next to godliness.
We might as well be saying that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Not only are these things not in the Bible, but most of them are actually contrary to the gospel. I mean, do we honestly think we can handle the stuff of life?
Who do we think we are?
The truth is, as anyone who has genuinely suffered will tell you, that God will often give you more than you can handle.
And He will do it precisely because you can’t help yourself.
Paul had more than he could handle. He had what he described as a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12). Scholars debate what that thorn might be, but it seems to be some kind of painful, physical condition. Perhaps a recurring form of malaria he picked up on one of his island adventures. And it hurt. A lot.
So much that Paul begged the Lord three times to take it away. But God did not. Instead, he reminded Paul that the thorn was there in order to display the strength of God.
God will give you more than you can handle. And when He does, our choice is relatively simple: we can despair, or we can turn our eyes on the truth of the gospel, that God makes up for what we lack. That His strength is perfected in weakness. That God helps those who cannot help themselves.
We can’t handle the thorns. But gloriously, we follow a King whose strength is made perfect in our weakness.