Have you heard the cliché Christian saying that goes, “God won’t give you more than you can handle”? It’s not that there isn’t some truth to this aphorism. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” But it is misguided insofar as it places the emphasis on what we can manage— through our own strength and sufficiency—rather than what God will provide when we inevitably fall short.
I remember the late nights on my cold kitchen floor—my body frail from months without an appetite, rivers of tears, burning cheeks, and the feeling of being alone late into the night, every night. Even at a time of life filled with unexpected breakages, Jesus met me repeatedly on that floor as I cried out for him to reconcile, redeem, and renew. He listened to every spoken and stuttered prayer, my weakness on full display. Each minute felt like a marathon. But with every breath in and out, Jesus invited me into his sufficient grace strengthening my weakness with his perfect power. As the Lord said to the apostle Paul, I felt in my life too: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Reaching the end of myself was exactly what created space within me for God to enter, and he washed me with his mercy and clothed me with his strength. My utter weakness became the dwelling place for his glory to reside. Yes, just as Paul declared, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (v. 9).
As a fallible human who has experienced suffering that many peers might not share, I know deep in my breath and bones that we are not meant to handle the weight of life’s hardship on our own. If God did indeed give us only what we could handle, there would be no need for a savior beyond ourselves, and the blood-drenched death of Jesus would be needless. The weight of the world’s brokenness would rest squarely on our shoulders as we struggled through the broken relationship that may never be mended, the ongoing illness we never imagined we’d have to bear, and every other unknown set before us.
And yet, if we experience hardships beyond what we can handle, the blood of Jesus is the greatest undeserved gift we could ever receive. Our absolute inability to save ourselves illuminates the reality of our absolute need for a savior.
With Jesus as our Savior, we can take great comfort in knowing his heart is tender toward our pain, as he too endured unimaginable sorrow. His innocence is evidence that he is the only one worthy of being the Sacrificial Lamb for our sins. It is a weighty truth that the one who is innocent must bear the weight and punishment of every sin, yet this is the very reason we must believe Christ when he says his grace is sufficient. The glory of God shines ever brighter when we allow our weaknesses to be a proclamation of his infinite grace, power, and strength.
Even with his sovereign strength, Christ did not reconcile, redeem, or renew the circumstances I once longingly prayed about on the kitchen floor. Instead, what I thought was solid eventually became dust. And yet, I found myself set free—free from the expectation of a life on my terms, where suffering was contained and relationships were guarded. On the other side of self-reliance, I found rest in relationship with Christ—in reconciliation, redemption, and renewal in him, not in my circumstances.
May our weakness—in the darkness of nights spent on the kitchen floor, and in all other places where our fallibility becomes undeniable—be a testament to the strength of Christ our Savior who dwells in the depths and heights. May we trust in his sufficiency, for when we are weak, then we are strong.
Kaitlyn Rose Leventhal is a professional abstract painter who lives in British Columbia, Canada with her husband and dog.
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