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Overwhelmed But Not Overcome

July 28th, 2017

Emotions provide color and beauty to life.

 “I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed.”  Psalm 61:2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about being, “Overwhelmed But Not Overcome.”

Feelings enrich your experience of life. But there are times when feelings are confusing, even overwhelming. In such times, you can find comfort and companionship from Jesus. “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV. Feelings are real but they are not always right. You have to deal with them but you do not have to believe them. There will be times when you may wish you didn’t have so many feelings to contend with. But I would not want to be without emotions, nor should you. Emotions also provide color and beauty to your life experience.

Jesus felt crushing emotions and dealt with them, as when He agonized over Jerusalem’s rejection. Luke 13:34-35 NIV. Or as He wept in Gethsemane’s garden when He foresaw the suffering of the cross. Luke 22:42 NIV. There is good news for such times. “[Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same temptations we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.” Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT.

At such times, easy answers won’t comfort you nor will empty platitudes that urge you to ignore or deny your feelings make feelings go away. I have learned that feelings are real, whether positive or negative, and you must reckon with them. Denying troubling feelings only amplifies their power. They won’t just go away because you wish they would. You should deal with them. You do not have to submit to them. Your feelings are real, but not always based in reality. Ofttimes, it is better to doubt them than believe them. Don’t become a slave to your emotions.

Embrace and enjoy healthy emotions; God gave them for your blessing. But what can you do with the unhealthy ones – like anger, fear, discouragement, worry, doubt, frustration, jealousy, or distress? God always has the answer. “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4 NIV. First, do not indulge feeling guilty for honest emotions, nor continue entertaining unhealthy emotions either. Bring them out in the open. Without shame, place them in God’s presence where the Holy Spirit can help you handle every emotion. That’s what Jesus did in His agony, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow . . Father, please take this suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will, not mine.” Mark 14:34 NIV/36 NLT. You can fully trust God in such moments, if you will.

To understand feelings, you must examine their origins. Sometimes, only God can expose the source of your feelings. When emotions overrule your will, bad feelings prompt bad choices. The Holy Spirit within you will always give you the power and wisdom to make right choices, if you ask. Remove the hurry and you reduce the worry.

More than circumstances, busy schedules are the root cause of feeling overwhelmed. You feel overwhelmed when stuff pushes God to the outer edges of your life. When you are overwhelmed: make time to recuperate physically, mentally, relationally, emotionally, and spiritually. Take time to rest. You must prioritize the necessary time. Take time to share your need for prayer with a friend. Take time to quiet your heart in God’s presence. “I am content and at peace, as a child lies quietly in its mother’s arms, so my heart is quiet within me.” Psalm 131:2 TEV. Take time to pray, asking God for help and healing. Take time to listen, until you hear a fresh, invigorating word from God.

Feeling the emotions of circumstances beyond his strength, David determined, “I will cry to You for help, for my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering Rock of safety, for You are my safe refuge.” Psalm 61:2 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to choose daily to live by strong faith and not strong feelings.

Christian Communications 2017-0579

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Overcoming Doubt

January 30th, 2013

God’s Word and character persuade trust and dissuade doubts.

“I believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9: 24 NIV.

A child does not begin life with doubts. They believe; belief is natural to them. Unfortunately, life soon teaches you to doubt, because there seems little about which you can be steadfastly sure. Doubt is a choice you make. You learn to doubt by experiencing people and things that are not trustworthy. You learn to doubt what you hear. Promises are made and broken. You learn to question authority; authorities are not always right and slow to admit when they aren’t. Doubt begins early and grows until stopped.

Both doubt and belief are choices you make. You can find supporting evidence for either, but you cannot do both. Doubt comes naturally; belief only comes spiritually. Doubt feels safe; belief seems risky. Doubt looks at circumstances, and questions God; belief looks at God, and questions circumstances. Doubt protects you from disappointment; Belief promises you God’s faithfulness. Doubt rehearses excuses to expect little; belief rests on God’s promises to expect much. The choice is not easy, but it is yours to make.

Mark’s Gospel tells of a father who brought his son to Jesus for healing. Read Mark 9:20-27 NIV. His desperation made him want to believe that Jesus could heal his troubled son. The worried dad conditioned his request on Jesus’ ability, ”If you can do anything . . help us.” Jesus refocused the dad with his choice to believe, “Everything is possible for him who believes!” The issue is never about what God can or cannot do; His power and authority are unchangeable. The issue is what you will or will not do. Will you choose to believe or doubt? Your response should be as honest as his, “Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” He will help you; He will not do it for you, nor can anyone else. The choice is yours.

Anyone, even the best of people, can be infected with a similar attitude that troubled Thomas, a disciple of Jesus. After the crushing disillusionment of Jesus’ crucifixion, Thomas doubted his friends when they reported Jesus was miraculously alive. That was contrary to everything he had ever known and believed possible. When told, he responded with a mistaken certainty, “Unless I see  . . and put my finger into the print of the nails in His hands and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25 NKJV. Thomas was as my friend, Kenny, described all of us, “prone to believe our doubts and doubt our beliefs.” Foolishly, we feed our doubts and starve our beliefs. He could believe but only if he would choose to believe; belief is a choice you make, as is doubt. Don’t battle your doubts; choose to believe.

Jesus’ response was so much different than mine or yours would likely have been. With kindness and understanding, Jesus invited Thomas to do exactly what would persuade his trust and dissuade his doubts. Read John 20:26-29 NKJV. It’s just my assumption, but I don’t believe Thomas ever reached his hand to touch Jesus’ hands or side, in spite of Jesus’ invitation. The living Christ standing before him with all the authority of Heaven was overwhelmingly convincing. Listen to Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That’s where you and I will walk most of the time – between seeing or believing. The more the Word of God abides in you, belief strengthens and doubts weaken. See John 15:5-7 NKJV. Seek the company of people who encourage your faith. See Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT. Belief is the strongest posture to combat doubt.

My prayer for you today is that your heart will rest sure in God’s Word and character.

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