Most of us know the feeling. So much to do and so little time to do it. So many needs and expectations to meet. So many things that we feel we should be doing but can’t seem to get to. The result is a cumulative sense of anxiety—if not dread—that can make even crawling out of bed in the morning a major challenge.
Several weeks ago, I spent some time with a friend who was really struggling (I’ll call him “Bill”). Bill’s life was not going well. His boss was giving him a difficult time and the fear of losing his job was both real and valid. With several key church relationships being strained, the addition of a significant health problem created a weight that would be difficult for anybody to bear. In short, Bill was feeling completely overwhelmed.
As I listened to Bill talk, I began to realize that he was dealing with 4 separate, but interconnected issues. When asked for my opinion, I mentioned what I saw and suggested that we discuss each issue separately. An hour later, what once felt like a hopeless, overwhelming scenario was now marked by a hope-filled plan. A couple of week later, Bill called, excited to tell me that the direction of his life had turned in a much more favorable direction.
Life Is Overwhelming
Let’s be realistic; life easily can become overwhelming in our day and age. We feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of information that we must process. We feel overwhelmed by the many requirements we must fulfill. We feel overwhelmed by all of the bills to be paid and the possessions to be cared for. We feel overwhelmed by the needs around us and the people who demand our attention.
I once heard that researchers have estimated that one weekday issue of the New York Times contains more information than the average person in Victorian England would have processed in an entire lifetime. In short, we feel overwhelmed because we are overwhelmed. At the end of a typical day, we don’t want to have to process more information, or accomplish more tasks. We just want to “veg out” and do something mindless.
Sadly, many of us feel overwhelmed when it comes to pleasing God and living out our Christian faith. We feel that we can’t possibly meet all of God’s expectations. Heap on the overwhelming volume of needs around us and we easily become hardened and/or we sink into depression.
Burdened by Christmas?
With the holidays approaching, the tendency to feel overwhelmed only increases—there are gifts to buy, dinners and parties to organize, and difficult people to please. Ironically, this cumulative sense of being overwhelmed is radically opposed to what Jesus came to earth to accomplish. Thus, over the next several weeks, I’ll be blogging about the issue of feeling overwhelmed from a number of perspectives. By identifying and addressing several key aspects of the problem, I hope to help lift the burden that many of us may be feeling.
If we are feeling overwhelmed, God is not to blame. Indeed, He is the answer to all that ails us. This is the exciting message of Christmas–and one that we dare not miss in the midst of all of our activity!
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (Phillips)