Are You Overwhelmed, or Overcoming?
I have a few friends who know I startle easy. Needless to say, they think it’s hilarious to hide around corners, underneath desks or even in my car to scare me. They’ve got me good more than once!
It’s one thing to have a friend scare you, it’s another to live with a constant fear of something going wrong or being disrupted.
If you feel that way, you’re not alone. Many people have wrestled with threats or thoughts that seemingly were too overpowering.
Are you familiar with Elijah?
1 Kings 19:1-2 (NIV)
Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
The threat and the thought of those words gripped Elijah’s heart and mind like a vise.
Have you experienced something similar?
*If I don’t pass this test, I’ll never get the job that I want…
*If I don’t find someone to love soon, I’ll never get married…
*If this conversation doesn’t go good the whole church could fall apart.
For a long time, I feared the thought of not living past forty-five. My father passed away when I was eight years old. He was forty-five.
At the time of this fear I had two boys (three now), just like me and my brother. A reoccurring, distracting thought kept finding its way back into my heart and mind…
I hope I don’t die at least until my boys are older than eight. I must make it past forty-five.
Our thoughts have a way of running fast to places that offer no hope. Look at how Elijah responded to the threat.
1 Kings 19:3-4 (NIV)
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.
Notice how fear affected Elijah… what did he do?
We need to recognize this because fear affects us, for the most part, the same way.
I believe fear causes us to feel two ways:
There’s nothing I can do. I’m going to lose no matter what. This is a hopeless situation.
There’s no one who will understand. I’m all alone in this. If I told someone they’d think I was crazy.
Typically, both intimidation and isolation go hand in hand. When we allow ourselves to stay there the thought of escape is hard to believe.
Thankfully, there is a way out!
How Do We Overcome Being Overwhelmed?
To break through patterns of fear, worry or being overwhelmed we must practice:
Captivity and Connection.
Let me explain.
Remember, Elijah was intimidated and isolated.
When you begin to feel intimidated, you must to the best of your ability, take your thoughts captive.
If you’re reading this, if you have capacity to understand what I’ve said so far, then realize a couple more things:
You get to choose what you think about.
You get to decide how far something gets to go in your head.
The bible talks about how we are to engage when it comes to our thoughts.
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Captive means to capture or arrest.
Make yourself the judge of your thoughts and feelings. Are they in alignment with God’s promises and hope?
Think about this, when someone is arrested some sort of trial follows. Statements are made, facts are presented and then a decision is made.
We must do the same thing with our thoughts.
The second response is related to feelings of isolation.
When you begin to feel isolated, you must move toward connection.
When Elijah ran, God was present and available the whole time. God was ready to encourage and assure Elijah that He was with him.
1 Kings 19:9, 11 (NIV)
…And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
When you are overwhelmed you must connect with God.
Erwin McManus once shared such a helpful reminder. When Elijah ran to the battle and from the battle, God was in both places.
King David made the statement, I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! (Psalm 139)
Wherever you are. Whatever your situation. God is there.
Secondly, you must connect with people.
After God encouraged Elijah He sent him back to people who would support him.
1 Kings 19:15-16 (NLT)
Then the Lord told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshi to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet.
Do not underestimate the power of this connection. You must connect with people.
What are you doing to move toward connection?
For me, when I shared with a handful of friends in a room, my fear about dying before I turned forty-five began to melt away.
Conversations with people we care about are transformational. God uses honest conversations among people to do super-natural work within our hearts and minds.
Intimidation must be taken captive. Isolation must move toward connection.
If taking two steps feels like too much. Which single step can you take first? Either one will help you take the next one.
Elijah was overwhelmed but ended up overcoming. You can too.