Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Overwhelmed

Recently, a counselee said to me, “I just don’t know what to do. I’m completely overwhelmed.” As I tried to help her sort through all of the responsibilities, trials, and problems she was faced with, I began to see a pattern: For every issue of her life, there was at least one corresponding blessing God had granted in relation to it. For most, there were many provisions made by God to help her with the respective problem. I grabbed some paper and a pencil, and began to make a chart, kind of like the factor trees we used to make in grade school to break down multiples. As the charts began to fill the page, we were both amazed at the beauty and wonder of God’s providence.

How about your life? What would your charts look like? Do you have pain? What blessings has God given you to make that pain more bearable? Do you struggle with disability? How has God sustained you? Have you experienced a loss? What has the Lord added that has enriched your life and softened the blow? If you begin to meditate on all the blessings in your life, instead of the pain and losses, you will see the love of your sovereign God there. It is easy to dwell on things that are in your face all the time. If every breath brings pain, or you must count and conserve every step, you will naturally be focused on those things. It takes effort and discipline to switch a one-track mind to another track, but it can be done.

Maybe you are thinking, as many believers will confess, that God wouldn’t have to give you all those little things, if he would just give you the one big thing that you really want. But this is flawed thinking, for at least a couple of reasons. First, God doesn’t have to give you anything. He could just allow you to suffer for His glory, never giving you any blessing other than the knowledge that you responded biblically to whatever he ordained for you. But that is not usually how He works. God rewards the faithful, as we read in Lamentations 3:19-25:

The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.

As we depend on Him, he is faithful to bless our faithfulness. As we respond to our trial in a way that is pleasing to Him, He gives us hope.

Secondly, you need to ask yourself, what is that “one big thing” that you really want? What do you need that you don’t have? If we are thinking rightly, we know that we have only one real need, and that is the love and salvation offered to us in Christ. Without this, we are lost, and eternally hopeless. As believers, our greatest need has already been met. The trials and suffering we have now are the methods God uses to help us become mature in our walk with Him. As we turn again and again to Him for help in our pain or problems, we gain a deeper knowledge of His love.

Are you overwhelmed today? May I suggest that you begin to examine your life for the answered prayer you have experienced in your trial. Maybe you could even make your own “factor trees” to see all of the many blessings God has poured out on you through your troubles. As you do this, you will be overwhelmed in a new way: you will be overwhelmed by your God, His love, and His mercy that has been poured out on you. Here is some background music to start your thinking on the right path.