May 4: More Than I Can Handle
Judges 6:11–7:25; Philippians 2:1–11; Psalm 66:1–20
“God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”
This Christian maxim is a well-meaning attempt at putting our difficult times into perspective. It holds the view that God knows our weaknesses and knows when we can’t measure up to a challenge. But if we’re going through trials, this same saying can be debilitating when we feel that we can’t possibly handle a situation.
The psalms often describe circumstances that leave the nation of Israel hopelessly struggling and helplessly in need of God:
“For you have tested us, O God; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you placed a heavy burden on our backs. You let men ride over our heads. We went through fire and through water, but you have brought us out to the place of abundance” (Psa 66:10–12).
Israel doesn’t often “handle” situations very well. Throughout its history, the nation chosen by God repeatedly rebelled against Him. Only when God gave them over to their enemies and they suffered through trials would they cry out for deliverance. Only when they stopped relying on themselves or foreign gods to sustain them would He come to their rescue.
It may be that God does give us more than we can handle. But this is actually—perhaps strangely—a source of comfort. If we could handle every circumstance, we’d never reach the end of our self-reliance. And it’s only when we get to the end of ourselves that we realize how much we desperately need Him.
Our trials give us hope. The people of Israel were “tried as silver is tried” (Psa 66:10). Just like them, we’ll be purified by fire. We will go “through fire and through water,” a process by which He makes us more wholly devoted to Him. And His work will bring us through “to the place of abundance” (Psa 66:12).
His faithfulness to us, even when we’re unfaithful, is reason to praise Him. And this is precisely the psalmist’s response: “Blessed be God, who has not turned aside my prayer, or his loyal love from me” (Psa 66:20). We see God’s perfect love for us in Jesus, who was obedient when we couldn’t be and suffered so we wouldn’t have to (Phil 2:5–8).
Do you think you can handle the troubles in your life? How can you see God’s faithfulness to you, even when you’re going through difficult circumstances?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- And the Angel of the Lord came, and sat under the oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the father of the Abiezrites, and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. Then the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou valiant man. To whom Gideon answered, Ah my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this come upon us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, and said, Did not the Lord brin gus out [of] Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivere dus into the hand of the Midianites. And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in thy might, and thou shalt save Israel out of the hands of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he answered him, Ah my Lord, whereby shall I save Israel? behold, my father is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. Then the Lord said unto him, I will therefore be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites, as one man. And he answered him, I pray thee, if I have found favor in thy sight, then show me a sign, that thou talkest with me. Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring mine offering, and lay it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again. Then Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened bread of an Ephah of flour, and put the flesh in a basket, and put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it. And the Angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened bread, and lay them upon this stone, and pour out the broth: and he did so. Then the Angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that he held in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened bread: and there arose up fire out of the stone, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened bread, so the Angel of the Lord departed out of his sight. And when Gideo perceived that it was an Angel of the Lord, Gideon then said, Alas, my Lord God: for because I have seen an Angel of the Lord face to face, I shall die. And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee: fear not, thou shalt not die. Then Gideon made an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah Shalom: unto this day it is in Ophrah, of the father of the Abiezrites. And the same night the Lord said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, and another bullock of seven years old, and destroy the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it, And build an altar unto the Lord thy God upon the top of this rock, in a plain place: and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the grove, which thou shalt cut down. Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the Lord bade him: but because he feared to do it by day for his father’s household and the men of the city, he did it by night. And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken, and the grove cut down that was by it, and the second bullock offered upon the altar that was made. Therefore they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? and when they inquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing. Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: for he hath destroyed the altar of Baal, and hath also cut down the grove that was by it. And Joash said unto all that stood by him, Will ye plead Baal’s cause? or will ye save him? he that will contend for him, let him die or the morning. If he be God, let him plead for himself against him that hath cast down his altar. And in that day was Gideon called Jerubbaal, that is, Let Baal plead for himself because he hath broken down his altar. And in that day was Gideon called Jerubbaal, that is, Let Baal plead for himself because he hath broken down his altar. Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites, and they of the East, were gathered together, and went and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and he blew a trumpet, and Abiezer was joined with him. And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, which was also joined with him, and he sent messengers unto Asher, and to Zebulun and to Naphtali, and they came up to meet them. Then Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the threshing place: if the dew come on the fleece only and it be dry upon all the earth, then shall I be sure, that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And so it was: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, and filled a bowl of water. Again, Gideon said unto God, Be not angry with me, that I may speak once more: let me prove once again, I pray thee, with the fleece: let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and let dew be upon all the ground. And God did so the same night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground. Then Jerubbaal (who is Gideon) rose up early, and all the people that were with him, and pitched beside the well of Harod, so that the host of the Midianites was on the North side of them, in the valley by the hill of Moreh. And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee, are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel make their vaunt against me, and say, Mine hand hath saved me. Now therefore proclaim in the audience of the people, and say, Who so is timorous or fearful, let him return, and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people which were at mount Gilead, two and twenty thousand: so ten thousand remained. And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many: bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and of whom I say nto thee, This man shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee: and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This man shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. So he brought down the people unto the water. And the Lord said unto Gideon, As many as lap the water with their tongues, as a dog lappeth, them put by themselves, and everyone that shall bow down his knee to drink, put apart. And the number of them that lapped by putting their hands to their mouths, were three hundred men: but all the remnant of the people kneeled down upon their knees to drink water. Then the Lord said unto Gideon, B these three hundred men that lapped, will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place. So the people took victuals with them, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel, every man unto his tent, an retained the three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in a valley. And the same night the Lord said unto him, Arise, get thee down into the host: for I have delivered it unto thine hand. But if thou fear to go down, then go thou, and Purah thy servant down to the host, And thou shalt hearken what they say, and so shall thine hands be strong to go down unto the host. Then went he down and Purah his servant unto the outside of the soldiers that were in the host. And the Midianites, and the Amalekites and all they of the East, lay in the valley like grasshoppers in multitude, and their camels were without number, as the sand which is by the seaside for multitude. And when Gideon was come, behold, a man told a dream unto his neighbor, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream and lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled from above into the host of Midian, and came into a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent fell down. And his fellow answered, and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian and all the host. When Gideon heard the dream told, and the interpretation of the same, he worshipped, and returned unto the host of Israel, and said, Up: for the Lord haht delivered into your hand the host of Midian. And he divided the three hundred men into three bands, and gave every man a trumpet in his hand with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise, when I come to the side of the host: even as I do, so do you. When I blow with a trumpet and all that are with me, blow ye with trumpets also on every side of the host, and say, For the Lord, and for Gideon. So Gideon and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the host, in the beginning of the middle watche, and they raised up the watchmen, and they blew with their trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. And the three companies blew with trumpets and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord and of Gideon. And they stood, every man in his place round about the host: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. And the three hundred blew with trumpets, and the Lord set every man’s sword upon his neighbor, and upon all the host: so the host fled to Beth Hashittah in Zererah, and to the border of Abel Meholah, unto Tabbath. Then the men of Israel being gathered together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, pursued after the Midianites. And Gideon sent messengers unto all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Beth Barah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered together and took the waters unto Beth Barah, and Jordan. And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb, and slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and slew Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued the Midianites, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon beyond Jordan. Judges 6:11–7:25
- If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any compassion and mercy, Fulfill my joy, that ye be liked minded, having the same love, being of one accord, and of one judgment, That nothing be done through contention or vainglory, but that in meekness of mind every man esteem others better than himself. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of other men. Let the same mind be in you that was even in Christ Jesus, Who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God: But he made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made like unto men, and was found in shape as a man. He humbled himself, and became obedient unto the death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath also highly exalted him, adn given him a name above every name. That at the Name of Jesus should every knee bow, both of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, unto the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1–11
- Rejoice in God, all ye inhabitants of the earth. Sing forth the glory of his Name: make his praise glorious. Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works? through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies be in subjection unto thee. All the world shall worship thee, and sing unto thee, even sing of thy Name. Selah. Come and behold the works of God: he is terrible in his doings toward the sons of men. He hath turned the sea into dry land: they passed through the river on foot: there did we rejoice in him. He ruleth the world with his power: his eyes behold the nations: the rebellious shall not exalt themselves. Selah. Praise our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard. Which holdeth our souls in life, and suffereth not our feet to slip. For thou, O God, hast proved us, thou hast tried us as silver is tried. Thou hast brought us unto the snare, and laid a strait chain upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads: we went into fire and into water, but thou broughtest us out into a wealth place. I will go into thine House with burnt offerings, and will pay thee my vows, Which my lips have promised, and my mouth hath spoken in mine affliction. I will offer unto thee the burnt offerings of fat rams with incense: I will prepare bullocks and goats. Selah. Come and hearken, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done to my soul. I called unto him with my mouth, and he was exalted with my tongue. If I regard wickedness in mine heart, the Lord will not hear me. But God hath heard me, and considered the voice of my prayer. Praised be God, which hath not put back my prayer, nor his mercy from me. Psalm 66:1–20