This is the time of year I most feel overwhelmed. That back to school, back to sports, back to parent volunteer duties, back to driving everywhere time of year. It comes on like a deluge, and I feel as though I am drowning in responsibilities and places I have to be and worries I will forget to pick someone up.
But to add a pandemic on top of it all is a whole other thing.
Your fall may look far different from mine, but I would venture to say you feel just as overwhelmed. We all are. Overwhelmed by losses, changes, and the unknowns. Overwhelmed by news reports and disheartening stories. Overwhelmed by what is happening in the world and in our culture. Overwhelmed by worries, fears, and stressors. Just when we think there couldn’t possibly be one more bad thing to happen this year, we learn of another event. We try to cope with these emotions by reading and sharing memes that joke about 2020. If we could, we’d push fast forward on this year and skip ahead to the next, hoping for a brighter future on the other side of December 31st.
For some of us, feeling overwhelmed stops us in our tracks. We freeze in place and struggle to make simple decisions. Others of us might get out our to-do lists in an attempt to reign in all that is out of control. Still others may turn to distractions to get their mind on something else for a change. Often, feeling overwhelmed can lead us to look to false saviors for help and hope in the midst of the chaos. To be honest, I know each of these responses well.
And I’m still overwhelmed.
One of the things that weighs me down the most when I am overwhelmed is when I look ahead to the future. Whatever it is that overwhelms me, I simply can’t imagine bearing the load day after day. My resources are slim and I fear running out of time, energy, wisdom, creativity, and strength. I look at the calendar and fear I simply won’t have what it takes to get through the coming month. I look at all the responsibilities stacked up high and worry I can’t complete them. I consider all the things that could go wrong in the days and weeks to come, and my worries press down on me even more.
All too often, I live there in the future, focused on what may or may not happen. I worry about not being prepared. I fear running short. I fear not having enough, not being enough, not doing enough. In doing so, I forget that God is greater than anything that may overwhelm me. I forget who he is and what he has done. I forget his extravagant grace in providing what I need most: salvation from sin. I forget he is Jehovah Jireh and all the times he has provided for me in the past. I forget how he has strengthened me in my weakness, sustained me in trials, and carried me in my sorrows.
I also forget that his mercy for me is new each day and his well of grace never runs dry. He is the source and wellspring of all that I need to live for him in this crazy and chaotic world. In fact, he’s already provided everything I need to live a life of godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Yet, rather than trust in God to strengthen and sustain me each day, I’m like the Israelites who collected more manna than they needed, thinking they would store it up for the next day–only to find it rotten and inedible. I live my life on the insufficient fumes of my own resources instead of the grace God generously provides.
The truth is God doesn’t call us to depend upon ourselves; he calls us to trust in him to provide what we need to live for him. He gives us just what we need for each day and promises to be there on the next to provide for us again. And he is not stingy with his grace, for as John wrote “he gives us grace upon grace”(John 1:16). God doesn’t tell us what tomorrow brings; rather, he calls us to follow after him, trusting he will lead and guide us. The Israelites did not know the path through the desert; God led them as a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. He leads us today by his word and his Spirit at work within us. We may not have a map or know what tomorrow brings, but we are assured God is with us and will give us just what we need.
For all the hearts that are overwhelmed today, we need that gentle reminder that God is far bigger than whatever overwhelms us. He owns all things, keeps all things, and sustains all things. May we live in his grace today.
Originally posted here.