It’s a great question! Your response can either hinder or help you. It can diffuse or destroy. It can…
You get the idea.
But you need to think about it. Think about the stuff that overwhelms you. Is it a pile up of little things? Or something that’s more sizable? Maybe it’s the news. COVID. Riots. Politics. It doesn’t take much if you listen enough to make you feel overwhelmed. Maybe a family member who continues to make bad choices. Maybe it’s living with your own bad choices.
Here’s another question to follow up all of those. Where’s your hope at when you feel overwhelmed? Maybe better yet – what’s your hope – where do you put your hope – what do you hope in? That’s almost as important as the first question, as it has everything to do with how you respond when you feel overwhelmed.
Here’s the deal…what we do is more important than we realize when we feel overwhelmed. It’s something we all deal with. We all get overwhelmed.
And having just recently dealt with feeling overwhelmed myself, I thought I’d write how I learned I should respond to it and share it with you.
But I need to give you some context before we get there.
The year is about 95 AD – long after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. All the apostles of Jesus are gone. Well, all except one.
And he’s living during a time when things are really gross for those that are still following the way of Jesus. Rome heavily persecuted (tortured, killed, exiled, jailed, etc) followers of Jesus. And John was not excluded, finding himself exiled to an island called Patmos.
John is surrounded by some of the most overwhelming circumstances. And it’s here that he receives a vision from Jesus of what heaven will be like (among other things). There’s a lot that goes on in this vision, too much to cover here. Just know that John writes down what he sees to give us hope… even when we feel overwhelmed. And it’s that lens that we will use for the rest of this post.
It’s just three verses. Here’s the first…
Rev. 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them
There’s two words here that I need to point out. The first, tabernacle. It’s a noun and means a place of dwelling (tent). The second, dwell, is a verb and it’s the act of setting up a place to live in. This is significant! It’s God desiring to live among us. It’s God desiring to live within us. It’s God moving toward me. It’s God moving toward you.
Short version – It’s God’s presence with you and I. It doesn’t matter if you are overwhelmed with feeling like a failure or you’re overwhelmed at your job or overwhelmed in your marriage or family. God wants to be with you! He wants to dwell with you! His presence is moving toward you. The question is are you going to respond to it?
The second verse says this…
Rev. 21:4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
I’m enamored by the phrase “wipe away every tear”. If you have kids, take a moment and think about a time that you wiped painful tears away from their cheeks. Or maybe you wiped hurt tears away from a loved one’s face. Why? Have you ever thought about it? You do it for what the tears represent. Something painful or hurtful. It’s to comfort them. It’s as if you wish you could wipe away what’s hurting as you wipe away their tears.
And God desires to comfort us – only on a God like level! He won’t take away all the bad and all the sad. He won’t take away all that overwhelms. But He will comfort us through it. He will use it all to move us just that much closer to Him. Remember, He desires to be with you. He doesn’t cause the sad and the bad. But He will use it if we let Him.
We are meant to be with each other. We are meant to comfort each other. And while someone else can wipe a tear away from our face, sometimes we need God to do that. And we need to let Him. We need to ask Him to. We need to pour out all that is overwhelming us onto Him, knowing that He can handle it, whatever it is.
It’s part of Him redeeming you – which is our last verse.
Rev. 21:5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
God can take all the bad, all the sad, and redeem it. That doesn’t mean make it go away. It means he uses it to redeem, to restore. God is always in the mode of redeeming. You. Me. And all the stuff that we face that can seem overwhelming. It brings purpose when we begin to view what’s around us with a redemptive lens. And it’s that purpose that brings assurance that God is in control.
He’s making all things new.
So…what do you do when you feel overwhelmed? It’s all in the word focus. When Nicky and I had our photography business, a favorite “go to” lens was the good ole 50mm. Why? Because it gave you that blurred background (called bokeh) while making the subject pop! You could easily see what was in focus, while everything else faded into the background. You couldn’t even make out what the background was. It wasn’t removed from the frame. It was just given its proper place.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
Focusing on what overwhelms us moves it to center frame. And it moves God somewhere in the background. That’s a recipe for being overwhelmed. I’m not saying you don’t ever think about those things. That would be irresponsible. What I am saying is that they need to have their proper place in your frame in relation to God.
We do that by…
- Remembering His presence (First verse)
- Let Him wipe your tears (Second verse)
- Join Him in His redemptive process (Third verse)
No matter what it is that overwhelms you, God has the final word. It’s how we respond to Him that makes the difference. He wants to move closer to you…so move closer to Him. He wants to comfort you. And He wants to continue redeeming you through the bad and sad that overwhelm. It’s through our response that makes the difference, both inwardly, and outwardly.
I started with questions. So I’ll end the same. How would your life look different if you started living with God more in focus, remembering His presence, letting Him comfort you, and joining Him in His redemptive process? What would you do different? Pick one thing. Just one. And start doing it.
It will make all the difference.