"I'm overwhelmed. I just can't handle this anymore.
There's too much to do. I wish I could crawl away,
go to sleep, disappear." How often have we felt
this way -- hopeless, powerless, swamped, depressed?
You know, when we say that we're overwhelmed, we're
really believing in some pretty negative things:
- We are feeling a false sense of responsibility
and are acting pretty egotistically by taking on
burdens that might not be ours and thinking that
we have to handle our own problems.
- We're believing that God really isn't in control
of our lives.
- We're admitting that there's a problem that's
too big for God to handle.
But do we really want to take God out of the solution?
We don't have to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed
by these destructive and deadening feelings. We don't
have to give up our sanity, peace, and health to accomplish
what needs to get done. We don't have to be crushed
by a tremendous sense of burden. There is a way out.
Changing our concept of what it means to be overwhelmed
is one of the most important steps we can take to
find our freedom. Usually we associate being overwhelmed
with feeling defeated -- most often by outside forces.
But what if we thought about being overwhelmed --
immersed and submerged -- by the power of God? How
would we feel then? Hopeful, empowered, light, joyful!
After Jesus' resurrection, the apostles and disciples
finally understood what it meant to be overwhelmed
by the power of God, by the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit.
Luke records in the book of Acts numerous occasions
of people being "filled with the Holy Ghost"
(Acts 2:4). Let's think about the word "filled."
If we are completely filled, then there is no room
for anything else. A car simply cannot take any more
gas when it is full. So, if we're filled with the
Holy Ghost -- filled with the Spirit of God -- then
there is no room for depression or defeat.
The apostle Peter told the multitudes that God said,
"I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh"
(Acts 2:17). God is pouring His Spirit into us --
in fact, we reflect His Spirit! His Spirit is energetic,
compassionate, principled. Moreover, God is not stingy
with His gifts: He "pours" his Spirit out
-- floods, dumps, submerges us in His glory. The disciples
acknowledged this Spirit with gratitude, humility,
joy, and conviction in its power; as a result, they
converted the multitudes, healed instantaneously,
and transformed lives. And we can feel this Holy Spirit,
But first we have to be receptive to all the good
that knowing God offers. How do we do this? How do
we get to the point where we can refuse to be overwhelmed
by problems and, instead, allow ourselves to be overwhelmed
by God's love and Spirit?
SIX PRACTICAL STEPS
Here are six practical and prayerful steps that will
enable us to free ourselves from the burden of feeling
overwhelmed so that we move through challenges with
ease, poise, and grace.
- BREATHE. Let's stop what we're doing and
breathe. It's amazing how calming this one action
can be. In the Bible, "breath" stands
for life and inspiration:
The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath
of the Almighty hath given me life. (Job
When we breathe, we are allowing ourselves to
be overwhelmed by inspiration, flooded with a
new sense of life.
- When we breathe in, let's think about breathing
in (bringing in, filling up with) all the good
qualities from God -- love, peace, joy, harmony,
- When we breathe out, let's let go of all the
built-up tension we may have. Let go of all
the ungodly qualities that go hand-in-hand with
feeling overwhelmed -- stress, strain, fear,
worry, impatience, depression.
This process, which replaces tension with ease
and peace, enables us to be inspired. The Bible
tells us that inspiration provides us with understanding:
But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration
of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
Inspiration is key to defeating the overwhelmed
state of thought. Inspiration is the quality of
"allowing" or "letting" things
happen rather than trying to "make"
- When we try to make things happen, we often
force things and create bigger problems for
ourselves. When we're not inspired, we plod
methodically through homework or other tasks.
Life seems dull and boring.
- But when we're inspired and allow things to
happen, we have a sense of freedom and purpose.
We allow ourselves the liberty to wonder, think
freely, and be creative. We discover solutions
to problems. We are joyful.
- RELAX. Let's consciously relax our muscles,
our thoughts. We can do this while we breathe in
thoughts of peace. Take a break and pray. Jesus
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke
upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and
lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto
your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden
is light. (Matt.
What a difference it would be if we thought of
our "burdens" as "light!"
We would feel happy and carefree. Jesus had more
cause to feel overwhelmed and burdened than any
of us. Yet, he did not give into the pressure;
he did not quit, collapse, or complain. Rather,
he allowed God -- not persecution, betrayal, or
even death -- to overpower him and fill him with
a sense of confidence and assurance. Though he
knew what was coming, he did not worry about it
or ignore it. He prepared for the crucifixion
and resurrection by living a God-directed life
moment by moment. He rested in God. As a result,
he met each and every challenge with a relaxed
(not lazy) and calm attitude because he knew wholeheartedly
that God was in charge.
- BE STILL AND LISTEN. Let's get quiet so
we can hear God's voice. It's easy to do when we're
Feeling overwhelmed affects our overall attitude.
Our mental weather and, therefore, our actions
become stormy. We become short with others, moody,
or irritable. But the Bible gives us hope:
Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble,
and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves
thereof are still. Then are they glad because
they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their
desired haven. (Ps.
God calms the storms on the ocean and in our
thoughts and lives and leads us to our "desired
haven." That promise is powerful! God brings
us to the place where we want to go. We are "glad"
because we are "quiet." When we are
quiet, we can hear the "still small voice"
of God (I Kings 19:12). God's "still"
voice tells us the "who, what, where, when,
why, and how" of accomplishing or fulfilling
our tasks, goals, and dreams.
- YIELD AND TRUST. Let's allow God to do
things for us and trust in God's voice, which we
can hear when we're calm.
Once we hear God's voice, it's sometimes tempting
to ignore it because what we hear doesn't go along
with our plan for our lives. That's when yielding
and trusting come into play. It's easier to yield
when we realize that our plan for our lives, even
though it's incredible, cannot possibly be as
great as God's plan for us. Why would we want
to interfere with God's plan by trying to do things
in our own way?
We have to remove the burden of planning from
off of our shoulders and place it where it's supposed
to go -- with God:
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall
That's a pretty awesome promise -- God will "sustain"
us! But God requires us to do some work: we have
to "cast" -- to yield, to let go. We
don't have to make, force, or fix. And if we're
really yielding, then we are turning everything
about our lives over to God, not just a few things.
This takes a tremendous amount of trust. If we're
truly trusting, then we "know" -- we
don't just think we know -- that God's will is
operating in our lives. Such trust gives us a
sense of peace.
LIVE IN THE NOW. Let's not worry about
the past or future. This is easy to do when we're
yielding up your lives to God and trusting in
Him each moment.
Even when we feel thoroughly confused, stressed,
and overwhelmed -- to the point that we want to
give up -- we can take comfort in knowing that
God doesn't give up on us. The Psalmist wrote:
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
then thou knewest my path. (Ps.
Isn't this a comforting thought? God knows our
path even if we don't. God is directing each and
every moment of our lives. Therefore, we don't
have to be concerned about what has already happened
or what may happen. Now, there's nothing wrong
with learning from the past or preparing for the
future. But if we LIVE in the future or the past,
we rob ourselves of experiencing the good that
is happening NOW. The only real time and place
we live in is the present. We can make decisions
about the present, the now. All we need to do,
a friend of mine reminds us, is to ask ourselves
a simple but powerful question:
- What is the best thing for me to do at this
Living in the "now" allows us to be
fully present and do what we need to do. And if
it's the BEST thing for us to do, then we can
see our "to do" list as a "get
to do" list. Thus, we can lift ourselves
above a sense of burden. We can enjoy the people
we're with and enjoy the things we're doing without
feeling overwhelmed that there are other things
we "need" to get done.
- MOVE FORWARD WITH CONFIDENCE. Let's confidently
do the "best thing to do" at the moment.
Once we have stopped to breathe, relaxed, gotten
still so that we can hear God's voice, turned
our lives over to God in complete trust, and decided
to live in the moment, then we can move forward,
knowing that we are doing God's work.
Doing God's work is not a burden; it is a joy!
When we choose to love God supremely and trust
in Him, we have chosen to release ourselves from
the oppressive thoughts that would overwhelm us
and send us downward into a pit of despair. We
have chosen to be overwhelmed by the power of
the Holy Spirit, to be revitalized, to be reborn
anew. With such power and Spirit, we can't help
but heal -- heal ourselves and others. And with
such Spirit, we have an unlimited sense of energy
and joy that enables us to move through our days.
Our days may be full, but they are now filled
with the harmonious rhythm of love.