I’m writing this post after an overwhelming day. I woke up, left late for work (but by the grace of God made it to work on time), worked eight hours straight under pressure, had a wicked stomachache (which is an absolute nightmare for someone with a fear of throwing up), dealt with crazy drivers on the way home, quickly ate dinner with my husband, and then washed the dishes for two hours. All the while, I tried to keep a smile on my face and plow through the day without having a breakdown.
Trust me when I say, I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed. I honestly feel like God puts me in these situations not only to grow me, but to encourage someone else who may also be feeling overwhelmed. So, if you’re overwhelmed, this one’s for you!
For a long time, I wished that the craziness would stop and that I could just live at peace. I thought that if I just worked a little bit harder, spent time with the right people, and prayed a little more, I would sort of get to the next level of life, which is the relaxing time. My older friends lovingly pointed out that the craziness never stops, that life will grow busier and busier as I progress. This fact honestly just makes me want to dig my face in my hands and cry for a little bit.
What if I told you that God actually wants you to be overwhelmed?
I looked through the Scriptures to find out what to do when I’m overwhelmed. Although I wish that I could have found evidence that God wants to completely eliminate our chaos, what I’ve found is that God actually wants us to be overwhelmed. Think about it: Do you think Abraham was overwhelmed when God called him and his wife to start a new life in a foreign land? Do you think Jacob was overwhelmed when he had twelve kids and two quarreling wives, and he eventually thought his son was dead? Do you think Gideon was overwhelmed when God shrunk his army from 22,000 to 300 to fight an army that was considered innumerable? Do you think David was overwhelmed when Saul literally vowed on his life to kill him? (David was so overwhelmed that he wrote several psalms about his experience!) Do you think Jesus was overwhelmed when He sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane?
Friend, if you’re overwhelmed, you’re in good company.
When you are at the end of your rope, that’s when God reveals His strength to hold you up. When you are running on empty, that’s when God wants you to run to Him. When you feel like there’s no hope, that’s when God wants you to find hope in Him. When you’re overwhelmed, that’s when you need to take a deep breath (in through your nose, out through your mouth) and pray that God would give you what you need in that situation. And when He reveals Himself to you, you realize that your problems aren’t so big anymore. That’s when your faith in God grows.
So, if being overwhelmed is supposed to happen, how come it feels so wrong?
The difference between being overwhelmed in the way we understand it and being overwhelmed in the way God understands it is the source of our overwhelming. In other words, what overwhelms us defines whether or not we can live at peace. Being overwhelmed by the things of this world (our jobs, our families, our school, our health, our chores, etc.) will drain us, but being overwhelmed by God will fill us.
When the people of the Bible were overwhelmed, what did they do? They looked up. They remembered that their Heavenly Father was bigger than anything they could face. As Abraham walked, God revealed all the land that He had created, the land that Abraham’s descendants would one day inherit. When Jacob had doubts, God wrestled with him and overtook him, reminding Jacob of the Lord’s mighty strength. When Gideon doubted that God could use the weakest member of the smallest clan of Israel, God used him and 300 willing men to defeat an innumerable army. When David was overwhelmed, he meditated on the greatness of God, and it brought him peace. When Jesus was overwhelmed to the point of death, He spent the last few hours of His life on Earth praying for God’s will to be done.
If you’re overwhelmed, you’re in good company. You’re also in good hands. If you trust in God, He will guide you in the way you should go. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, look up at Him and remember that what you are facing is no match for your great God.
Oh, and did I mention how I actually made it through the day today? I started the day with worship. My commute to work was so much easier knowing that God was with me in that car. The prayers I prayed and the moments I shared with Him in the morning planted the seeds of hope that I needed for the rest of the day. I sat in the car, overwhelmed by God, and not overwhelmed by my circumstances.
Next week, I will address practical steps to handle stress in the heat of the moment. But for now, I think it’s time for bed!