Overwhelm. It’s a real thing. There are various reasons why we feel overwhelmed. It can be a season of busyness where everything feels stretched too thin, packed too full, and it’s hard to know where to begin. It can be a season of sorrow when life has piled one heartache on top of another and it feels like an elephant is sitting right on top of your chest, making every breath difficult and painful. If can be unmet expectations from yourself to lose the weight, save the money, or finally use your time wisely. Or expectations from someone else who is watching your every move, waiting to see if you are going to push through and succeed or crumble under the stress of it all. Life is overwhelming, and at times it can be too much to bear.
You are not alone if you are feeling overwhelmed. But there is hope beyond the overwhelm, whether it’s simple overwhelm from everyday life or overwhelm that has rocked your world and you are wondering if you will ever get back to normal.
The Bible gives us a lot of good direction when it comes to overwhelm. We are going to look at seven verses to cling to if you are overwhelmed.
1. Psalm 61:2 - “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.”
This verse is an excerpt from one of David’s many psalms. When he says, “from the end of the earth,” it gives us the implication that he was in a situation that was beyond his human understanding. While we don’t know exactly what David was going through when writing this, we can find what David believed about God amidst his overwhelm. David believed he could turn to God in prayer, no matter what. While we know we should turn to God first, sometimes we wait until we have no other option.
Second, David knew God was his rock. Stability is a must during seasons of overwhelm, and David gives us the reminder to seek God because He is our foundation that never changes.
And finally, David makes it clear that if there is any hope for him to escape the depths of overwhelm that he is experiencing, he must seek God who is higher than he is for relief.
2. Psalm 102:1 - “Hear my prayer, O Lord, And let my cry come to You.”
Psalm 102 is an anonymous Psalm written as a prayer from an overwhelmed heart. The actual title of the Psalm that you might find right before verse number one in your Bible is, “A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the Lord.” This title alone gives us much to consider and practice. The instruction is clear that when our hearts are overwhelmed, we are to pour it out in prayer to God. This is why the psalmist words resound with the words, “Hear my prayer.”
There are times when it can feel like our prayers aren’t going above the ceiling. Like a tennis ball bouncing from floor to ceiling and back again, it can feel like our prayers are just getting thrown down or up and coming right back to us again. But the posture of humility that the psalmist begins with reminds us to humble ourselves, and remember God is the one who can make a difference in our overwhelm.
3. Luke 10:41-42 – “And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’”
Mary and Martha are some of the most noteworthy women in the Bible. A few of the lessons they teach us are not to doubt God’s timing, like when Jesus raised Lazarus, from the dead after the women thought Jesus was too late. Or about serving, when Martha thinks she is doing the best she can. And about worship, when Mary sits at the feet of Jesus.
When it comes to overwhelm, I think most of us can relate with Martha. She had prepared for Jesus to come to her home. She was busy doing all the things she thought were good things to be a good hostess. But I tend to believe she was so overwhelmed with impressing the Lord, she didn’t let His presence impress her heart and she missed it, because she was overwhelmed with everything else.
This is so much like us. Life is so busy and full. It’s super easy to get distracted and even feel extra spiritual when our schedules are full to the brim with good things. But these verses of Mary and Martha’s interaction with Jesus teach us to slow down, even when there is a lot going on and we have a lot to be responsible for, and acknowledge God’s presence in our lives. Sometimes we have to stop and just sit at Jesus’ feet.
4. Philippians 4:6 - “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
This is one of those band-aid verses we like to pull out and put on everything that slightly resembles overwhelm. We preach not to be anxious and just pray, but there is more truth tucked in this verse that we need to unpack and claim.
The phrase I want us to notice is “in everything.” Sometimes we think since I am overwhelmed now, I will pray. Or since I don’t know what to do, now I will turn to God and see if He can help me. But I think this verse gives us a clue into how to truly overcome and beat some of those anxious days and overwhelming moments. It’s all about realizing that even when we are not anxious or overwhelmed, we can be and should be in prayer and supplication with our mighty God. We can be and should practicing giving thanks in everything.
When we live out these spiritual disciplines “in everything,” before the anxiety and the overwhelm hits, we will be ready to combat all life holds. And we will already be in communication with God, submitting our requests before Him. This is not a good band-aid verse to slap on a hard situation; it is a verse to claim and practice before the wound needs to be covered.
5. Matthew 6:33 - “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
This verse is a familiar verse taken from the famous Sermon on the Mount where Jesus covers multiple topics, but the message of it all comes down to this. Seeking God’s kingdom overrides the physical needs we have, the worries, we have, and the overwhelm of anything we might face.
We see in Matthew 5, 6, and 7 the focus all comes down to seeking God and the bigger purpose. If you are feeling overwhelmed, try taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture – the eternal picture. When we see things with an eternal perspective, many things that are temporary lose their hold on us. When we remember God created and has the power to control everything, we take a step of faith to rest in His goodness and grace amidst the chaos.
6. Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”
This is one of my favorite Bible verses. Perfect peace isn’t just peace sometimes or something to grasp when life is out of whack. In Hebrew perfect peace is “shalom shalom.” It is not just shalom which would be “peace.” It is shalom shalom – it is complete peace.
The second part of this verse is the challenging part. It requires the listener or reader to keep his mind focused on the realization that the Lord is the source of the peace. Keeping the mind “stayed” gives the idea of the mind being stable or established on the foundation of the Lord. It’s complete surrender to the source of peace. When we live in shalom shalom, we live at peace even amidst the overwhelm. Not in our own power, but in the rock on which we rest.
There will always be something in life that will rock our world, knock us off our feet, or overwhelm our souls in a way we don’t know how to handle. But God’s Word gives us the hope and help we need when we don’t know what to do. You don’t have to keep wrestling with overwhelm. Cry out to the Lord and ask Him to give you peace.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/cyano66
Micah Maddox is a wife, mama, friend, Bible teacher, and author ofAnchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World and her newBible Study - JAMES: Tired, Tested, Torn, and Full of Faith. She is passionate about helping women learn what it truly means to daily walk with Jesus. Micah is on the Proverbs 31 Ministries First 5 Writing Team and writes for Encouragement From Women. Her main ministry is at home with her husband, Rob, who leads worship at Clear Springs Baptist Church in East Tennessee, and with her five children, some by birth, and some by adoption. Micah loves to give a voice to hurting hearts and writes and speaks to the one who needs encouragement. You can connect with her onInstagram ormicahmaddox.com.