When Life Overwhelms


Sep 27, 2019

Does your heart ever feel overwhelmed? Perhaps you are disheartened by your inability to meet everyone’s expectations and demands. Honestly, there are days in my life when my heart vacillates between being raw with paralyzing frustration and being stimulated by a thousand agitations. Continuously, the floods of demands, disciplines, people, chores, habits, vices, and commitments create a massive quagmire in my life that can only be described by one desperate word: overwhelming.

Cry Out to the Lord

David, the worshipper and man after God’s own heart (see 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), seems to have shared my incompetence at dealing well with all that life dishes out.

Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint [“overwhelmed” KJV, NLT]; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever; let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. (Psalm 61:1–4 NASB)

Although I do not know what specifically overwhelms you, I can assure you that while the source of your staggering obstacles may look much different than mine, the answer for both of us is the same:

Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer.

When you are overwhelmed, take it from me and take it from David: the first thing each of us needs to do is cry out to God. We need prayer more than we need our circumstances to change. Just going to my infinitely gracious God, who is lovingly attentive in all of His ways, reminds me that I am not in charge. There is Someone mightier and more powerful than I who is well able to bring relief to my mountain of stress.

From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint [“overwhelmed” KJV, NLT].

There is no sin in calling out to God when you are completely and utterly overwhelmed. In fact, there is a sweet and peaceful sense of fulfillment that comes as you throw yourself into His welcoming arms. The sin would actually be in turning to other, less-satisfying options. Even when experience has shown us that such activities do not satisfy, we still mistakenly believe that spending, eating, being entertained, or going to the spa is what we need to conquer the overwhelming circumstances and events of our life. These are deceptive distractions, possessing all the healing power of a miniscule Band-Aid after open-heart surgery.

Let God Lead You and Protect You

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

In those moments when life derails and overwhelms us, what we need is for God to lead us. We need Him to take us by our human hands and then guide us with His divine hands to a higher place. He always wisely leads His children to a more secure vantage point than the circumstances of life are able to offer. The benefit of standing on the “rock that is higher than I” is that it places me above my circumstances, and therefore I am able to see from heaven’s perspective.

One of the most destructive mistakes that any of us makes during moments of overwhelming madness is to be led by our emotions. Anger and impatience will do damage to relationships that may be difficult to repair. I must humbly realize that my emotions often lie to me, but God will lead me in triumph even in overwhelming times…especially in overwhelming times.

For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy.

When you are feeling overwhelmed, do not focus on what is causing the irritation or annoyance. Turn your eyes away from your circumstances. Instead, set your gaze—and your mind—on the only One who is able to help you! Then, begin to declare who God is. The Lord is your safe place and will strongly protect you against the enemy forces of busyness, difficult relationships, a failing economy, health challenges, false priorities, and anything else. He is more than able!

Let me dwell in Your tent forever; let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.

There is no safer, more peaceful place to be than to abide in God and with God. When I linger in His presence and enjoy the safety of His Word, it is then that the overwhelming things of this earth truly “grow strangely dim.” When His nearness overshadows all that screeches my name, I am at peace at last. The life that He bestows to a desperate woman such as I is the life that I have dreamed about and longed for.

God’s presence miraculously enables me to face another day of the demanding details of daily living. His Word powerfully shields and protects me from the rapid-fire of life’s stresses. Prayer helps me to wisely focus on what is eternal and not on what merely stirs up a ruckus.

Perhaps, the next time that you or I find ourselves in overwhelming circumstances, what we should do is run to God and all that He is! I resolve to take a break from this mad, mad, mad, mad world and set my heart where it has always belonged…in Him.

Just a Four-Letter Word

I have heard it said that one of the most powerful prayers a person can pray consists of only one, dynamic, four-letter word: help. If you are overwhelmed with everything that is on your to-do list, perhaps you should set aside that list, get on your knees, throw your hands in the air, and cry, “Help!” It’s a prayer that God will answer quickly, tenderly, and wisely. When your desperate life collides with the Father’s peace, you will experience grace and guidance without measure.

Don’t make it harder than it is—simply lay down your agenda and ask for the Father’s help. It’s what He has wanted all along.

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