We all have experienced the feeling of “overwhelmed” in our physical bodies and the innermost places of our soul. When we feel this way, we want to escape, unplug, self-medicate and somehow fix our circumstance. But, as we all know, our feeble attempts to avoid being overwhelmed often make matters far worse.
“Overwhelmed” is derived from the Middle English over and whelmen, which means, “to turn over.” Its literal meaning is to cover up completely or to be submerged.
Consider the Old Testament Prophet Jonah, who turned the opposite direction of God’s desire and commands. As a result, Jonah was overwhelmed with the responsibility of running from God, and was literally overwhelmed with water, in the depths of the ocean.
“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. He said, ‘I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me! You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.’” Jonah 2:1-3
Can you relate to how Jonah felt? Maybe you have also run from God and are overwhelmed (as Jonah was) because of it.
A few years ago, the challenging circumstances of my life: a fledgling ministry, problems with finances, trouble with friends and stress at home made me overwhelmed.
I was overwhelmed by my fear and stress, and I wasn’t sure what to do or where to turn.
However, it occurred to me that being “overwhelmed” might just be a natural stage of life. Perhaps, we are meant to be overwhelmed, and we have to decide who or what we allow to overwhelm us.
We can be overcome by our troubles, our poor filtering system, our failures and our fears, or we can be overwhelmed by God.
When I consider the people who encountered God’s presence in the Bible, like Jonah, Moses, the Apostle Paul and countless others – they were overwhelmed. In a flash, their perspective was transformed, their lives caught up in God’s presence and their worship was brought to new heights.
Maybe we need to be overwhelmed by God, and allow him to take our circumstances and our overwhelmed lives under his control?
“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.” Psalm 61:2-3
Open your hands and the overwhelming things in your life to the God who loves and redeems you today. Let him overwhelm you instead with who he is.
Read an earlier post by Craig here.