What has left you feeling overwhelmed today? When we read Scriptures that tell us not to worry about anything (Philippians 4:6-7, it’s easy to roll our eyes and think, “If you knew what I was facing, there’s no way you would tell me not to be worried. However, Paul knew all about personal stress when he penned his letter to the Philippian Church. In fact, He was in prison for preaching the Gospel when he wrote that letter and many of the other books of the New Testament. However, the fact that Paul was facing stress when he said not to be worried doesn’t really do much to alleviate our personal stress.
The things that you’re dealing with today can come from a variety of areas. Are you worried about your financial situation? Are you overwhelmed by your own struggles in school? Maybe someone in your family is facing a health problem, or you’re waiting to hear about some test results for yourself, but the prognosis is grim. Have you been left with an uncertain future because a marriage that you were invested in has fallen apart? If so, there’s no doubt that you’re feeling overwhelmed.
There are multiple things that you need to remember in those overwhelming seasons of life. First of all, it’s completely acceptable to feel overwhelmed. God isn’t sitting on His throne in Heaven waiting to chastise you for not knowing which way to turn next. However, He does want you to realize that He is the right place for you to turn. Because we have the Spirit of God living inside us, we know that we are in a perpetual state of His presence. Since we are in His presence and His presence is in us, we know that we are overcomers, even when we feel overwhelmed.
How do you live a life of victory when you feel like you’re losing the battle in every area of your life? It’s seemingly impossible to feel victorious when you feel like you’re doing everything you can just to survive another day. Thankfully, we serve a God who specializes in the things that seem impossible. If you’re feeling like life has you overwhelmed today, remind yourself that you’re an overcomer. We can look to examples of men and women who were overwhelmed by things they couldn’t control but came out on the other side as overcomers.
When You’re Out of Steam
1 Kings 19:4-6 (ESV)
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drain and lay down again.
When you read these verses, it’s easy to assume that Elijah was in a very dark time in his life. However, just before the events of 1 Kings 19, Elijah stood on a mountain against hundreds of false prophets and proved that there was only one true God. Not only that, but he saw all those false prophets die! However, our times of being overwhelmed often come directly after a major victory in our lives. The enemy cannot let you enjoy a victory for long, so he has to do something to try to bring you back down. In Elijah’s case, it was Queen Jezebel. She swore that she would murder Elijah in the same way that he had allegedly “murdered” her false prophets.
Instead of replaying his victory on the mountain, Elijah was overwhelmed. He spent an entire day running into the wilderness to hide before finding himself so overwhelmed that he asked God to take his life. Instead of giving him his request, God sent an angel to minister to Elijah.
The angel didn’t tell him that Jezebel wasn’t going to pursue him. However, he provided Elijah with what he needed to get through that day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, allow God to minister to you in the moment. Shift your focus from what might happen tomorrow and start looking for victories in the present. God’s presence was enough to sustain Elijah, and it’s enough to sustain you.
When You’re Weak, He is Strong
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the same of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul was no stranger to being overwhelmed. After all, we read about him being arrested, beaten, shipwrecked, snake bitten, and undergoing all sorts of other issues. In this passage, he was discussing a “thorn in the flesh,” something that completely overwhelmed him. While we don’t know what his thorn was, we do know that Paul was overwhelmed by it. That’s why he asked God to remove it. He knew that he couldn’t do it on his own.
However, God turned down Paul’s request. Instead of doing what Paul couldn’t do for himself, God told Paul that He would sustain him in the face of his thorn. Why? Because God’s strength is made perfect when we’re at our weakest.
God doesn’t always remove the things in our lives that leave us overwhelmed. Instead, He gives us the supernatural strength to face them head on. It’s not because He can’t remove them, nor is it because He wants to see us struggle. Instead, it’s because He wants us to realize what it’s like to be infused with His power. That can only happen in the face of adversity.
How God Leads Us
1 Kings 19:11-12 (ESV)
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
Finally, it’s vital that we understand how God leads us our overwhelming seasons. We may not always see a boisterous, outward showing of His presence. Looking for Him in the “big” or “flashy” things that go on around us may leave us wondering if He is really there.
Instead, allow yourself to hear his voice. When you’re overwhelmed, it’s easy to let the things happening around you down out the voice of God. But He is still speaking. When you’re overwhelmed, commit yourself even more to reading His Word. That’s how He speaks to His people today. When you dedicate yourself to finding God’s presence and hearing His voice in your trouble, you can experience His peace in the midst of what is overwhelming you.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I am completely overwhelmed by the things going on around me. I need You to rescue me. Let me hear Your voice through Your Word. Remind me that I am a victor, even when I feel like I’m struggling to hold on. In Christ’s name, Amen.