When You Get More Than You Can Handle5 min read

“No temptation has overtaken you such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able” (1 Corinthians 10:13a)

There are many cases in this modern world where the Bible gets taken out of context or is misquoted by those who may not have a great understanding of what’s inside. One interpretation that I hear a lot comes from 1 Corinthians 10. It is often stated that “God will never allow you to have more trouble than you can handle.” From my own life’s experience, I can tell you that this is not true, and the theme of this year’s Lutheran School’s Week, “Life Together in Christ,” sums up how we get through those times that we can’t possibly handle by ourselves.


In order for you to understand what I mean, I need to give you a little history. I graduated in 1980 from Concordia University Nebraska, Seward, Neb. and took my first call to St. John Lutheran School in Rochester, Mich. Having grown up in Nebraska, I had told the placement office that I was willing to go just about anywhere except Detroit. Funny how God works. During my first year there I was reacquainted with a classmate of mine, Miss Marian Koch, who had come to visit her sister who was on staff. Long story short, by the summer of 1982 we were married.

Two years later, we were expecting our first child and we made plans for my wife to be a stay-at-home mom. What we didn’t know was that the church was going to go through some restructuring that year and I would be going from a 12-month to a 10-month staff member. We ended up with a 60% pay cut and a baby that next year.

By 1988, we were expecting our second child and rapidly outgrowing the small apartment we lived in. We had looked at a house the year before and, even though it was perfect for us, there was no way we could afford it. Now, a year later, would it still be there? It was, and we were able to move in almost right away with help from our congregation and Church Extension Fund of the Michigan District, LCMS.

Troubles begin

Three years later, our third child, a daughter, came along. After her birth, my wife began to experience facial pain that, over many years, grew to levels that were almost debilitating. For the next 20+ years we would search the country and even the world for an answer and some sort of treatment.

The kids grew like a weed and the three of them became inseparable. The summer our youngest turned four, all three of them came down with a virus. The two oldest recovered after a few days, but Bethany was never quite herself. My wife took her to the doctor and we were told it was just the virus hanging on a little longer. After a week she was still not better and so we went back. The doctor still felt it was a virus but, to ease my wife’s concern, he said he would draw blood.

The next day my wife called the school and told them to send me home immediately. When I got there and saw her face, I knew something was terribly wrong. I can still remember feeling like I was kicked by a horse when she told me the doctor had called and said, “Your daughter has leukemia and you need to take her to Children’s Hospital right now. I have called ahead; they will be waiting for you.” Thus began a five-year treatment protocol that included spinal taps, blood draws, chemotherapy, and weekends spent in the hospital. All at a time when my wife was getting treatment of her own in Florida for weeks at a time. Too much to handle? Yes, I was way past that point.

How We Got Through It

But I tell you this story not because I want you to feel sorry for me, or even think, “I’m glad I’m not that guy.” Even though I can’t honestly say I would want to go back through it all again, I would not trade this experience for anything. I can’t say enough about the very special people who are out there every day working with sick kids and adults; nurses and doctors who shared their talent and, in many cases, their faith with us. But the biggest impact upon my life came from the students, parents, teachers and members of our church who rallied around us, prayed for us, brought lasagna, bought hats, had fundraisers, gave me time off, helped with travel, took our kids for extended periods, and made Christmas and birthdays special when we couldn’t.

As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us” (NIV).

Never Alone

Jesus suffered not only the pain and death of the cross but also the agony that came with being abandoned by His disciples, His friends and His Heavenly Father. He was forced to face His death alone, yet knew in His heart the victory that would be won by Him for us. His sacrifice means we never have to face suffering or death alone. We can always rely on Him.

God never promised that we would not experience more than we can handle. But with a life centered in Christ, shared in a community of united believers where the love of Christ is first and foremost in their hearts, I can tell you from experience that you will not have to handle it alone. Jesus’ death on the cross guarantees that whatever may befall us on earth can never overcome the hope and assurance of eternal life with Christ.

By the way—as of today, my wife still suffers from facial pain but it is controlled and she is teaching again. And my 4-year-old is now 24 and a 1st Lt. in the U.S. Army Nursing Corp. Praise God.

Vector art (c) majivecka/iStock

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About the Author

Tim Grothaus is the 8th grade Teacher and Media Coordinator at St. John Lutheran School in Rochester.

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