BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
To be overwhelmed is to be weighed down, to be under pressure, to be harassed, to be overpowered emotionally. I am so certain that this describes your condition at one time or the other in the past. May be that is even your present condition. And you are not alone in this condition.
Because some people couldn’t handle this situation very well, they lost the desire for living and decided to terminate their lives. This is a cowardly thing to do. It is an act of cowardice induced by the devil that will cause someone to commit suicide.
Courageous people stay alive to face the challenges of life; they become champions whose lives are a point of reference to others.
No matter how spiritual you are, you cannot run away from this experience of being sometimes overwhelmed. There comes a time when you are overwhelmed. You come under intense pressure. You are harassed by one nagging issue or the other or a barrage of issues pile on you, demanding solutions.
Great men of God, who did so much for God or rather, whom God did remarkable and outstanding work through, didn’t escape this experience. They were overwhelmed (and many like them who’re alive are being overwhelmed) at different times in their lives and in the dogged pursuit of God’s purpose for their lives.
Many times, we read in the book of psalms, the psalmists’ expression of their being overwhelmed. Most of these scriptures, talking about being overwhelmed, were written by David. He was a man of many troubles; but he was also a man of many victories. We can learn from these scriptures what to do when we are overwhelmed by the challenges of life.
In Psalm 55:5, David says, “Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me” (NKJV). In Psalm 61:2, he says, “When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (NKJV). In Psalm 142:3, David says, “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk they have secretly set a snare for me” (NKJV). Also in Psalm 143:4, he says, “Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed” (NKJV). Similarly, the writer of Psalm 77:3 says, “I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed” (NKJV).
So you see many instances of the psalmists, in most cases David, being overwhelmed. Great people are often times overwhelmed, but they have mastered the art of managing this challenge. That is the difference between them and other mortals.
Daniel also had this experience; he was overwhelmed by sorrow because of the vision that he had. He says in Dan 10:16: “And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, ‘My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength’” (NKJV).
How to overcome overwhelming situations
From the scriptures I have referred to, we can learn the right attitude to maintain whenever we are overwhelmed because there is nothing we face now that is strange; they are not novel. They are common to man. Therefore, we can learn from the experiences of those in the Bible and live victoriously over whatever pressure Satan wants to pile on us.
What should you do whenever you are overwhelmed? The answer is that you need to seek the face of God; you need more of His presence. Psalm 61:2 says, “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” (NKJV). There is a rock higher than you, and higher than the mountain of pressure that Satan is piling on you, harassing you with.
What the psalmist is saying in this scripture is that he would seek the face of God whenever he was overwhelmed. In the midst of all his troubles, David says, “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4 NKJV) He says in verse 8 says, “When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ My heart said to You, ‘Your face, LORD, I will seek’” (NKJV).
The Hebrew word for face, paniym, also means presence or person. We need more of the presence or person of God when we’re overwhelmed with problem. We need more of God when we have more of life’s troubles! Our problems should drive us closer to Him rather than draw us away from Him. In God’s presence, we receive strength, correct perspective, increased faith to endure and greater vitality for our dwindling energy.
God is looking for those who will seek Him as of vital necessity. David, who wrote Psalm 14, says, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any who understood, dealt wisely, and sought after God, inquiring for and of Him and requiring Him [of vital necessity]” (Psalm 14:2, Amplified Bible). Did you take note of that phrase? – OF VITAL NECESSITY (emphasis mine). Psalm 53, another psalm of David, says a similar thing in verse 2: “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any who understood, who sought (inquired after and desperately required) God” (Amplified Bible).
Seeking the face of God or inquiring after, and seriously requiring God is most profitable especially when you are overwhelmed. That was what David did. There is no better time to make God your first priority than when you are harassed by the problems of life. Rather than allow Satan to get you to one corner, and be preaching deadly sermons to you and manipulating you with negative imaginations, humble yourself and seek his face, knowing that He has the solution that you need. David in Psalm 69:32 says, “The humble shall see it and be glad; you who seek God, inquiring for and requiring him [as your first need] let your heart revive and live” (Amplified Bible). Let God be YOUR FIRST NEED, and not your last resort. Don’t wait till other things or other people have failed you before you come to Him.
Praying to God to rescue him from his adversaries, David says in Psalm 70:4, “May all those who seek, inquire of and for You and require you [as their vital need] rejoice and be glad in you and may those who love your salvation say continually Let God be magnified!” (Amplified Bible) Did you see another important phrase there? – AS THEIR VITAL NEED.
There are three similar phrases that I have called your attention to in some of the scriptures I have referred to, which qualify how your seeking the face of God should be. When you are overwhelmed, you should desire the presence of God AS OF VITAL NECESSITY, AS YOUR FIRST NEED and AS YOUR VITAL NEED. They are all expressing the same idea.
The tendency is for someone, who is overwhelmed, to run from pillar to post for solutions that are not available. In the alternative, he may withdraw from others and be sulking, murmuring or mourning. Neither of these attitudes will serve any useful purpose. The best thing to do is to draw closer to God. Nevertheless, most times, people do everything except what is most important – drawing closer to God.
David’s prayer while in the wilderness of Judah is instructive here: “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1 NKJV). Seek God early like David did; don’t seek Him late. Don’t wait till Satan batter and pound you so much before you seek God. Seek God early.
In his song of thanksgiving, in 1Chro 16, David underscored the need to seek the presence of God. “Seek the Lord and His strength: yearn for and seek his face and to be in his presence continually!” (Verse 11 Amplified Bible) This should be your topmost priority too. Psalm 105:4 makes a similar call on us to seek the LORD: “Seek, inquire of and for the Lord and crave Him and His strength (His might and inflexibility to temptation) seek and require His face and His presence [continually] evermore” (Amplified Bible).
If you will humble yourself, and not feel that you are sufficient of yourself to find your way out of your quagmire, the LORD will help you with the answer of peace. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron 7:14 NKJV).
Suicide is not a remedy
Are you overwhelmed by afflictions? God will deliver you if you’ll draw close to Him. The Bible says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19 NKJV). You don’t need to commit suicide because of the afflictions of life. Like a former U.S. President, James A Garfield (1831-1881), said, “Suicide is not a remedy.” It is never, and can never be a remedy. It is evil.
The God who says, “Do not murder” (Deut 5:17 NLT) does not give anyone the right to commit suicide as a way to escape or overcome the miseries of life. God has not given you the permission to take your life or another person’s life (lawful killing on behalf of the state is not murder). Suicide should never be an option for you.
God’s power is available to deliver you out of overwhelming affliction. The book of Hosea says, “I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me” (Hosea 5:15 NKJV). Seek Him in your affliction; don’t pursue Satan’s help, which doesn’t help.
If you’re in a condition of being overwhelmed by the problems or challenges of life, begin to seek the face of God today. The Bible says, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV). If you seek God’s presence, He will show you the path of life. If you seek His face, in that lowest point of depression that you may be, He will give you joy unspeakable.
Seeking the face of God should, however, be balanced with keeping company with your small group. Avoid isolation or withdrawal from your small group. You need members of this group at this time. Keep company with your company!
In Matt 26:38, Jesus said to Peter, James and John, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (NIV). Don’t let Satan disconnect you from your small group. Even if they cannot help you solve your problem or provide solution, their presence from time to time would help you emotionally.
The three disciples that Jesus took along to the Garden of Gethsemane were not to pray for or with him. They were to stay and keep watch with him. They were to keep watch and pray that they would not give in to temptation. But they failed in this assignment because of sleep.
Conclusion: Let me end with the lyrics of that hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Joseph M. Scriven (Music by John Zundel). Stanzas two and three say,
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer .
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
If you seek the LORD, He will give you His pleasure in place of the pressure the devil is mounting on you. Seek His presence, and His light will shine upon your way and He’ll lead you out of the blind alley you may be at present. Don’t let life’s challenges overwhelm you. When they besiege you, cast them upon the LORD for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22 NKJV).
If you’re not born again, I urge you 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, soul-winning church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. 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 am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching, soul-winning church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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