Overwhelmed

By Kathy Johnston

“Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer.  From the end of the earth I will cry to You, 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.”  Psalm 61:1-2

Overwhelmed, Websters definition:  to be upset or overthrown, to be overcome by superior force or numbers, to be overpowered in thought or feeling.

The Hebrew word for overwhelmed is “ataph”: to turn aside in order to cover, to envelope oneself, to be feeble, faint, grow weak.

This past weekend about 35 women from Heritage gathered together for a few days respite from the busy, hectic lives we all live.  We took time to quiet our hearts and focus our minds on the One who holds all things together.  (Colossians 1:17)  

We wanted to see and understand just a bit more clearly, who God says He is in his Word.  We discovered amazing and incomprehensible truths about the One who we call Father God.  We began to catch just a tiny glimpse of how great our God really is and what he means when he reveals his name as I AM.  

The Triune God has always existed and will always exist.  There is no beginning or end to him. (Psalm 90:2)  He simply is the Existing One, in all places and times simultaneously, because there is no time in eternity.

We learned that God is absolute reality.  There is no reality outside of himself unless he wills it, makes it, or speaks it into existence.  (John 1:3)

He is completely independent.  He needs no support or counsel.  He is complete in Himself.  He is completely self-contained, self-existent, and self-satisfied.  He is not lacking in anything.  He can’t be improved because he is already perfect and complete.  (Acts 17:24-25, Dan 4:34-37, Isa 40:8, 15, 17-18)

God is constant, never changing.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  (Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17, Malachi 3:6)

He is incomparable to anyone or anything.  All that we are amazed by in this world, whether it be in nature, or some extraordinary accomplishment or discovery of man, it’s as nothing in comparison to God.  (Isa. 40:12-18, Psalm 40:5)

Everything and everyone is dependent on God.   It may make some people very angry to hear someone say that, but in reality, they stay in existence only because God has purposed to keep them in existence.  (Prov. 16:9, Prov. 19:21, Psalm 127:1, Romans 11:33-36)

We also took a look this weekend at what science has discovered about the universe, the size of it being so huge that it’s hard to wrap our minds around it.

Scientists estimate that there are somewhere between 100 billion and 400 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy.  And our galaxy is just average sized.  They also estimate there to be over 100 billion galaxies, with a possibility of 300 billion.  Let’s just say they aren’t sure.  So do the math!  It’s simply mind blowing!

After looking at all of that, we were reminded of the cross.  We marveled, worshiped, and wept at the fact that a God like this would even notice us, let alone become one of us.  He didn’t have to, but he wanted to rescue us, to have relationship with us once again.  And before any of this vast universe was even created, he set his love on us, before the foundations of the world.  And even though we rejected him, he wasn’t willing to let us go.  THAT is overwhelming!

Why is it important to have a right perception of God? Because when we are in the midst of overwhelming circumstances, we remember that we have an overwhelming God and that nothing is too difficult for him.  

He sees us and knows how we are made.  He knows the harshness and reality of living on this little speck we call earth…because he did too.  He knows the difficulties, challenges, trials and temptations that we are facing.  And he wants us to know him as the one that holds all things together, the one who breathed the stars and galaxies into existence.  He  wants us to know that he is the Existing One who is a sure, safe place to run when everything around us is shaking.

This last month, I have heard about and met with many people whose lives are being shaken.  They are literally overwhelmed, and understandably so.  Tragedies, traumas, cancer, divorce, betrayals, parents losing children, children losing parents, husbands abandoning wives and children, and the list goes on and on.  Some families are facing multiple tragedies at the same time!  How much can one take??  Overwhelmed doesn’t even describe it completely.

“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.” Psalm 61:1-2

The psalmist David knew where to go when he was overwhelmed because he knew God’s character.  He had been there before and had experienced God in the overwhelming circumstances. He understood God’s nature,  that he was capable of holding him firm in a sure, safe  place, even when the enemy was surrounding him.  David knew and believed that God was who he said he was.  He knew that he could cry out to the One who is constant, never changing, overwhelming, all powerful and always present.  And he knew that the I AM, the one who called all things into existence and holds all things together would hear his cry, and equip him to remain faithful even as he faced his enemies. He knew he was safe in Him.  He knew God was bigger than all he was facing.

Could it be that when we get overwhelmed with life that we are looking at our trials and circumstances as bigger than God?  Have we made God too small?

If you are in that place, cry out to God and remember who He is.  He will give you the strength to keep moving…in His strength, not yours.  

Do you know this God?  If not, find someone to point you to him through his word.  Someone to pray with you that God would reveal himself to you and you could see how much he loves you, how capable he is.  

When you are overwhelmed, run to the one who is overwhelming!  

He is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen (Ephesians 3:20)

There are people all around us who are overwhelmed with life.  Let’s be the ones who come alongside those who are weary and overwhelmed.  Let’s help carry their burdens by taking them by the hand and leading them to the One who is overwhelmingly able!

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