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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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Feeling Overwhelmed

February 3rd, 2015

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

When life seems more than you can handle, kneel and pray.

My thoughts and comments today are about “feeling overwhelmed.”

Have you ever seen the panic and fear on the face of a child in water who suddenly realizes they can’t touch the bottom, or when a gulp of water causes them to gasp for breath? In a moment, their illusion of safety is swept away. Panic happens to adults as well. At such moments, efforts are desperate and exertion is usually misspent. Panic prompts self-preservation without producing safety.

Fear comes suddenly, often overwhelmingly, usually irrationally. Feeling overwhelmed is not a good feeling. Fear can rise from imagined dangers, as well as dangers that are very real. There will be times you will find yourself in situations beyond your ability to handle, suddenly realizing you are in unfamiliar territory. Everyone has experienced multiple times like that, such as: a student unprepared for the final exam, a new mother with a crying infant who refuses comfort, a young husband discovering he is not loved as he loves, a wife realizing her husband has been unfaithful, a businessman staring at a debt he cannot pay, a person stunned by an adverse diagnosis, an investor who risked more than he could afford, or a homeowner facing foreclosure. Those are real, everyday crises.

Life will sometimes seem unmanageable. The unpredictable interrupts; the unthinkable intrudes. No one is exempt from such realities – neither the wise, the rich, the strong, nor the Godly. What will you do when overwhelmed? Where do you turn for help? To whom will you look for answers and direction? At such moments, beware of despair. Even a great king felt overwhelmed,  but David knew what to do. “I will cry to You, Lord, when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever. I will trust in the shelter of your wings.” Psalm 61:2-4. Read Psalm 91:1-9.

When life seems more than you can handle, kneel and pray. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10 NIV. Prayer, not despair, is the answer. “When you are in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you are in rough waters, you will not go down. When you are between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end – because I am your God, your personal God, your Savior . . So don’t be afraid, I’m with you!” Isaiah 43:2-5 MSG.

If God can create the world out of nothing, He will supply your need. If God can provide for a multitude in a wilderness, He will give you what you lack. If God can construct a dry path through the Red Sea, He will make a way for you. If God can feed thousands with a small boy’s lunch, He will turn your little into enough.  If God knows the unknown and unknowable, He will provide the wisdom you need. God’s Word is ever true; “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. “ Philippians 4:19.

EDL theres hope

Today, my prayer for you is that when you know God can, you will trust that God will.

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Compassion

May 23rd, 2014

“When Jesus saw the people, He was moved with compassion for them.” Matthew 9:36 NAS.

Compassion provokes a personal identification with the plight of another.

My thoughts and comments today are about “compassion.”

Problems loom large; needs are expansive and solutions seem elusive. Marriages and families struggle; politics are divisive; global situations impose locally; poverty and hunger remain undiminished; government partisanship and ineptitude prevent solutions; unsustainable public and personal debt accumulates; clashes of ideologies and cultures increase; crime and violence intrudes our neighborhoods. Life can be a bit numbing. Understandably, a person could feel overwhelmed.

What is an ordinary person to do? It is easy to become so engulfed in one’s own struggles that you have little reserves for anything beyond your daily concerns. Such a life is too small and ultimately unsatisfying. As a young pastor, I learned these helpful words, “I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.” God expects nothing more of you than that, but He also expects nothing less. Compassion is evidenced by corresponding action. “Let us . . love with actions and in truth.” Read 1 John 3:16-18 NIV.

As always, Jesus is your example. “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching . .  preaching . .  and healing every sickness and disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” Matthew 9:35-37 NKJV. Notice what moved the heart of Jesus – “multitudes . . like sheep having no shepherd.”

They were a vast number of people, yet each feeling alone without a shepherd to care and provide their unmet needs. More people feel that way than you might realize. Jesus’ invitation remains, “Come unto Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest . . and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. Others saw a crowd; Jesus saw people.

Others may have seen an inconvenience to themselves or interruption to their plans; Jesus saw suffering individuals needing both Savior and Shepherd. When Jesus saw the multitudes, their separation and aloneness “moved” Him with compassion. Compassion is a deeply held emotion, yet so much more. Jesus felt what they felt. Their plight became His concern. Pity and sympathy are common; compassion is uncommon. I remember simple lyrics from years earlier, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

Compassion provokes a personal identification with the plight of another, generating a Godly motivation to provide relief. When you are compassionate, you are most like God. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:8-9 NKJV. Authentic and Godly compassion is not optional; “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.” 1 Peter 3:8 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you are tender toward things that break God’s heart.

Below, I have added the link to a brief, musical video that references the song I mentioned in this devotional.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2KOluWrjU8

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Responsibilities

April 2nd, 2012

“I am not able to bear all [this] alone.” Numbers 11:14 NKJV

Life is filled with responsibilities well beyond your abilities.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “responsibilities.”

Sometimes you are equal to the task; at other times your responsibility seems larger than your abilities. That latter reality can be quite daunting. When you face such situations, you are not alone; you are in pretty good company. Life is filled with responsibilities well beyond a person’s own abilities. Paul wondered, “Who is equal to such a task?” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NIV. God’s answer is, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens.“ See Matthew 11:28-30 NLT. With God in you and others with you, you are sufficient. See 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NKJV.

Remember Joseph who was asked to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and then devise and administer a government program for all of Egypt for seven years of abundance and seven years of drought? Or David, just a shepherd boy, who accepted a mortal challenge to face a giant of a warrior? Or Daniel who was asked to discern a King’s dream as well as interpret it, with the threat of his and others’ deaths for failure? Or consider a devout Jewish girl, likely a young teenager, who is told by an angel that she would supernaturally bear the long-promised Messiah? Good company, indeed.

On more than one occasion, Moses told God that his task was too great. As the leader of several million people whose history was generations of slavery, Moses felt a weight of responsibility he found overwhelming. “I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If you treat me like this, please kill me here and now.” Read Numbers 11:1-17 NKJV. Not able, too heavy for me! Sound familiar? There is an answer. “Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the Godly to slip and fall.” See Psalm 55:22 NLT. Every overwhelming situation is your invitation to rely on God’s faithfulness and sufficiency, not your own.

That was not the first time Moses felt inadequate. When God appeared to him at a burning bush with the assignment to liberate a nation, Moses could see no way he could accomplish that. So God said, “I will be with you.” See Exodus 3:1-12 NKJV. When God sent him to tell Pharaoh, “Let My people go!” He claimed disqualification because of his inadequate speech. So God said, “I will send Aaron, your brother with you; I will speak to you; you will speak to him; and he will speak for you to the people.” Do you notice a pattern? God will be with you and has put the people around you that you need to do what God asks you to do.

God was not shocked by Moses’ inabilities, nor is He by yours. Apparently, God never intended for Moses to do it all on his own, nor does He intend that you do so. God was faithful to provide Aaron and Miriam, Moses’ brother and sister; later Joshua, a young warrior; then Aaron and Hur; then Jethro, his father-in-law. God’s answer to Moses is the same answer for you – God’s presence and direction, along with a company of people necessary for your success, equip you for the Godly responsibilities you are given. It is rarely about what you can or cannot do; it is always about what God is faithful to do for you and through you.

God’s solution for Moses? “Bring seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to be leaders and officials among the people . . that they may stand there with you . . I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.” Numbers 11:16-17 NIV/See Exodus 18:13-26 NIV. Some responsibilities cannot be accomplished alone.

Those who help others will find the help they need when most needed. See Galatians 6:2 NKJV. Sowing and reaping is at work at such times. Who needs some help from you today to carry their heavy load? You can pray for them; give a helping hand; share a word of encouragement; be a friend who cares; offer companionship on their journey; write a note of comfort and care; spend some time listening; mostly, show them someone cares so they will believe that God does. It’s often the little things that help the most.

My prayer for you today is that life does not overwhelm you when God is alongside you.

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Feeling Overwhelmed

July 29th, 2010

“Give your burdens to the Lord.” Psalm 55:22 NLT

“Schedules, more than circumstances, are often at the root of feeling overwhelmed.”

My thoughts today are about “feeling overwhelmed.”

It seems increasingly common to feel overwhelmed. Knowing you are not alone in this may not be an especially consoling thought. Maybe it’s the accelerating pace of life, like the momentum of a snowball gathering speed downhill. Or maybe it’s the hurry and worry of deadlines for things that must get done, and the desperation of needs that must be met. Whatever the origin, feeling overwhelmed happens more than any of us would want, creating stress, anxiety, and poorer health. You can do all you can to avoid it; you can complain about it; you can crumble beneath its weight, or you will have to learn how to deal with it. What is a person to do?

You might momentarily feel better because of the sympathy and support of a friend; it’s good to have a friend who understands and walks alongside you. Also, Godly counsel can help you to maintain perspective and remind you of God’s promises and power, but there are times when turning to God in trust is the only thing that can help.

David knew what it was to feel overwhelmed – the distrust of those he trusted, the betrayal of a son, the encircling enemies, the weight of the crown, and the shame of his guilt – who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed? I’ll tell you what he did not do; he did not give up, nor run and hide. He turned his whole heart to his God! “I will cry to You (Lord) for help, for my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for You are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in Your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of Your wings.” Psalm 61:2 NLT.

When you are overwhelmed: take time! Schedules, more than circumstances, are frequently at the root of your feeling overwhelmed. Remove the hurry and you reduce the worry. Now here’s how you use that time. Take time to rest (time that you think you cannot afford to spare, you actually cannot afford to not set aside). Take time to share honestly with a Godly friend for counsel and prayer.

Take time to pray, inviting God’s help and direction. Don’t assume; ask! Praying makes a difference in you before it makes a difference in your situation. Take time to wait quietly before God. “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. Quiet your heart in God’s presence. Take time to listen. What’s the use of talking to God about the things you are feeling, if you fail to listen until you hear what God is saying?

Here’s God’s best advice: “Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the Godly to slip and fall.” Psalm 55:22 NLT. Feeling overwhelmed can sometimes signal that you have allowed stuff to push God to the fringes of your everyday life. See 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you keep God at the center of your heart and mind.

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