BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles” (Ps 55:2 NLT).
To be overwhelmed means to be overpowered emotionally or to be overcome physically. In the scripture above, David said he was overwhelmed by his troubles. He was so overwhelmed by his troubles that in verses 3-8, he felt like flying like a dove to a lonely place, away from his troubles. But that was not the solution. Escaping to a lonely place doesn’t mean escaping from one’s overwhelming troubles. Rather, one must cry to the LORD and unburden one’s heart to Him, which was what David did (verse 9-22).
1 Peter 5:7 talks about “Putting all your troubles on him, for he takes care of you” (BBE). Do you have overwhelming troubles making you worry? Jesus said you shouldn’t worry about anything, but have faith in God, seek first His Kingdom and live righteously (Matt 6:25-34).
Job was so overwhelmed by his troubles that though he didn’t curse God and die, as advised by his wife (Job 2:8-10), he cursed the day of his birth; he felt it was better not to have been born than to be going through the troubles he was facing (Job 3:1-26).
In Jer 20, the Bible records Jeremiah’s frustration with his overwhelming troubles. The chapter reveals the confusion in Jeremiah’s mind. In verses 7-10, he accused God of misleading him and stated his complaint. Verses 11-13 present a contrast where Jeremiah was praising the LORD. But Jeremiah immediately followed in the next few verses closing the chapter by cursing the day of his birth (verses 14-18). You would think you were reading the book of Job! But Jeremiah was speaking. He cursed the day of his birth just like Job did.
However, cursing the day of your birth that was in the past serves no purpose in the present. It doesn’t change your situation. A.W Tozer said, “Sometimes when we get overwhelmed we forget how big God is.” In Jer 45:2 (NLT), Baruch was Jeremiah’s secretary. Jeremiah dictated to Baruch his prophecies of destruction of Jerusalem, the first scroll that King Jehoiakim burnt and the replacement, the second scroll (Jer 36). Baruch also read Jeremiah’s prophecies publicly to the people and to King Jehoiakim and the princes.
But Baruch was overwhelmed. Could it be because of the challenging work of being Jeremiah’s secretary and his personal ambition? This is how Jer 45:2-5 captures Baruch’s condition and God’s response: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You have said, ‘I am overwhelmed with trouble! Haven’t I had enough pain already? And now the LORD has added more! I am weary of my own sighing and can find no rest.’ Baruch, this is what the LORD says: I will destroy this nation that I built. I will uproot what I planted. Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it! But don’t be discouraged. I will bring great disaster upon all these people, but I will protect you wherever you go. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (NLT)
People who are overwhelmed by different troubles are prone to discouragement. But whatever be your overwhelming troubles, there are principles in God’s Word to overcome.
How to overcome overwhelming troubles
1.Don’t attempt to run away from your overwhelming troubles. David thought of flying like a dove to escape from his troubles (Ps 55:6). Some try to escape from theirs by committing suicide. But suicide is a selfish and cowardly act! Those who are God-fearing, courageous and considerate of their families and friends face squarely their overwhelming troubles. Never contemplate taking your own life – you don’t own it. God does, and knows when to take it back.
Run to the LORD! Prov 18:10 says the name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are saved. There is overwhelming victory over your overwhelming troubles. “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (Rom 8:37 NLT).
Don’t always attempt to run away from your troubles. That you’ve changed physical location doesn’t mean your troubles are gone. In fact, anywhere you go, your troubles may sometimes go with you. Sometimes some people are the trouble they are trying to run away from. Therefore, they carry the trouble along! Such people may want everybody to change, but unless they change, nothing will change, because they’re the problem they’re complaining about!
In Gen 16, Hagar ran away from her mistress. But the angel of the LORD told her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her authority” (Verse 9 NLT). Hagar, not Sarai, was the problem. She wasn’t submissive to Sarai. “So Abram slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress Sarai with contempt” (verse 4 NLT).
Running away from your troubles is not always the solution. Furthermore, it is one thing not to run away from your overwhelming troubles, and another thing to run to the LORD.
I must however add that in exceptional cases like persistent domestic violence or life threatening aggressive behavior, the wisest thing to do is for the victim or survivor to run away from such situation in order to save his or her life, even if temporarily for the aggressor to regain his or her sanity.
2. Have faith in God and keep feeding your faith. To have faith in God in your overwhelming troubles means to put your trust in God. Apostle Paul said about the troubles he and others suffered in Asia, “At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end. Yet we believe now that we had this experience of coming to the end of our tether that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who can raise the dead” (2 Cor 1:8b-9 J.B. Phillips). Did you see that? He believed that they suffered the overwhelming troubles so that they could put their trust in God, not in themselves.
Jesus told the disciples in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God.” He said further in Luke 17:6, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (NKJV). Be full of faith like Stephen (Acts 6:5, 8) and like Barnabas (Acts 11:24).
Rom 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing and by hearing the Word of God. Therefore, feed on the Word of God even in the midst of your overwhelming troubles. Don’t feed your fear; feed your faith. This will cause your faith to flourish like the faith of the Thessalonians did (2 Thess 1:3a). Let the Word of God dwell in you richly (Col 3:16a). Fill your heart with words of faith, not words of fear or unhelpful words. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt 12:34). By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (verse 37).
Your faith in God is your victory over your overwhelming troubles. 1 John 5:4b says, “Our faith is the victory that overcomes the world” (International Standard Version). Have faith in God and keep feeding your faith. “But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20 Amplified Bible). Your faith will make you well (Matt 9:22; Mark 5:34, 10:52; Luke 8:48, 17:19).
Ps 34:19 says, “Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time” (TM). The New Living Translation puts it this way: “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time.” The New Century Version says, “People who do what is right may have many problems, but the LORD will solve them all.” Verse 20 says, “He will protect their very bones; not one of them will be broken” (NCV). In other words, your overwhelming troubles shall not destroy you; you’ll come out of them safely in Jesus’ name.
3. Unburden your heart to the LORD. Ps 61:1-2 says, “O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I will cry to you for help, for my heart is overwhelmed” (NLT). Take your overwhelming troubles to the LORD in prayer; release your burdens to Him. Don’t get stuck meditating on your troubles. Whatever you meditate upon will eventually be magnified! This principle works both positively and negatively, but don’t let it work for you in the negative.
Pray to God; don’t sit down worrying or grumbling. The writer of Psalm 88 said his soul was full of troubles and his life drew near to the grave (verse 3). But he cried to the LORD in prayer (verses 13-14). God answers prayers, not grumbling! Pray, God will hear you. Ps 34:6 says, “This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles” (NKJV). The Message translation says, “When I was desperate, I called out, and God got me out of a tight spot.” God shall hear your prayer and get you out of any tight corner you may be. Pray like David prayed in Ps 25:17-22. Let God hear your cry, and He’ll answer you.
God, through His power which is at work within us, is able to do far more than anything that we can ask or conceive (Eph 3:20). He knows the way out of all overwhelming troubles. Ps 142:3 says, “For I am overwhelmed, and you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me” (NLT). Don’t make the mistake of talking to everybody except God, the most important Person. Ps 37:5 says, “Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you” (NLT). Similarly, Prov 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the LORD, and then your plans will succeed” (NLT).
4. Endure suffering. I didn’t say enjoy suffering. 2 Tim 4:5a says, “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions” (NKJV). No condition is permanent! Rom 8:18 says there is no comparison between the pain of the present time and the glory which we will see in the future. While you’re standing in faith and praying, endure the troubles. Don’t give up while you’re waiting for your miracle. Patiently endure (James 5:10-11). This is only possible by the help of the Holy Spirit. Be strong in the LORD, and in the strength of His power (Eph 6:10).
5. Be joyful. Joy in the midst of overwhelming troubles? Yes. That’s another key to outlast and overcome your troubles. James 1:2 says, “My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy” (NCV). The phrase “be full of joy” is rendered “count it all joy” in the New King James Version.
Despite your overwhelming troubles, rejoice in the LORD. Phil 4:4 says you should rejoice in the LORD always. Prophet Habakkuk said, despite the economic devastation Judah would experience, he would rejoice in the LORD (Hab 3:18).
Refuse to be downcast. David asked, “Why are you cast down, oh my soul” (Pss 42:5a, 11a, 43:5a). Encourage yourself in the LORD (1 Sam 30:6c). Don’t sink into depression. Rejoice in the LORD. The joy of the LORD is your strength (Neh 8:10c). The natural man can’t do this. Only the Holy Spirit dwelling in you can make it possible. Joy is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22).
6. Take advantage of the support of others. This includes the support of fellow believers, Christian friends, family members, pastors, etc. in prayers, counseling, encouragement and so forth. “Hurt people hurt people,” goes a saying. Hurt people tend to hurt others, and that’s why such people should seek help and should be helped rather than being criticized. “Take on yourselves one another’s troubles, and so keep the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2 BBE). Don’t disconnect yourself from other Christians. “Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts” (2 Tim 2:22b NLT).
If overwork is your overwhelming trouble, delegate responsibilities that could be done by others or that you could train others to undertake. Don’t let perfectionism destroy you. You may not get the exact result from others like yours, but it’s better to be alive coping with people’s defective or deficient work than to die prematurely because you want to get everything done yourself! If it’s necessary, outsource whatever your mandate and the Holy Spirit will allow you to outsource.
7. Learn to politely say no to additional responsibilities, tasks, meetings, etc. that could further put more pressure on you or negotiate for extension of deadline before accepting them. I’m not providing a ready excuse for lazy folks who don’t want to exert or stretch themselves. No. I’m talking to those who are already doing so much and are feeling overwhelmed by their schedule.
Such people may need to explain to certain persons – for instance a friend, boss, client, etc. – why they can’t take more, why they can’t be available, why they require more time, why priorities need to be reordered and so forth.
Others may not know that your hands are already full. Don’t be sentimental. If you explain your tight spot, especially in relation to the deadlines you’re trying to meet and the new tasks, they’ll most likely show understanding. If your boss wants the new assignment to be the priority, then you’ll have his permission to relax on others. Don’t assume everybody knows the burden you’re carrying.
Conclusion: You will have overwhelming victory over your overwhelming troubles in Jesus’ name. You won’t drown in the flood of overwhelming troubles. “I, the LORD, am the one who defines the ocean’s sandy shoreline, an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the bounds I set” (Jer 5:22 NLT). The ocean of troubles shall not cross the everlasting boundary God has set.
If you’ve decided to give your life to Jesus, you need to take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There, you will be taught how to grow in the Lord and how to discover and fulfill God’s purpose for your life.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I’m a sinner and I cannot save myself. I repent of and forsake my sins. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I’m saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I congratulate you if you’ve said that prayer sincerely. You are now a child of God. May the Lord make you a Cedar Christian. May you grow into Christ in all things becoming all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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