I often suffer from the condition known as “Overwhelmed.” Last year I came down with it twice. In early summer, in Virginia, our oldest child graduated college on a Thursday and married two days later. Before the next week’s end, in South Carolina, I graduated with a master’s degree. Two weeks after that, we flew overseas to vacation in Ireland. These events were all good things, but they came in a very compressed time frame which I found very stressful.
Two months later, back in West Virginia, when my 83-year-old mother had a nasty fall, I drove down to take care of her for eight days and to arrange in-home skilled services and 24-7 companion care for her. During that time, I desperately missed my family and home. Plus, the uncertainty as to how long the process would take unsettled me.
Praise reminds us [of these truths] and allows peace to replace panic. @Grace_and_Such
- What if I don’t get everything done?
- What if I let people down?
- What if I make a mistake?
- What if I can’t figure out how to solve this problem?
If only I knew last summer what I know now. This summer, as I spent time in the Davidic
Psalms, I discovered that David—who was victor over Goliath, who was known as “a man after God’s own heart,” who was God’s anointed King over all Israel—often exhibited symptoms of “Overwhelmed.” The psalms he penned are replete with statements of distress.
I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts—men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. ~ Psalm 57:4
The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. ~ Psalm 18:4-5
I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. ~ Psalm 69:2
Thankfully, David’s psalms have another equally prominent component—praise.
He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. ~ Psalm 144:2
I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. ~ Psalm 57:9-10
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. ~ Psalm 40:5
Again and again in David’s psalms, I recognized the pairing of panic and praise. My response to adverse circumstances tends to be different. When I feel overwhelmed, I pray too, but my prayers are of desperate supplication, not confident praise. The gist of my prayers is typically, “Dear God: Make the problem go away now. Please.” But if like David I spent time praising God instead of treating him as the ultimate magician, I’d no doubt recognize how he loves me with agape love (the kind of love that’s in my best interest), how he’s in control of all things, and how with him, everything is possible. Praise reminds us of these truths and allows peace to replace panic.
So the next time I experience “Overwhelmed” symptoms—racing heart, sleepless nights, asking myself a ton of “what if” questions—I’m going try David’s Protocol.
When experiencing symptoms of “Overwhelmed,” praise God. Repeat as needed.