Endless articles. Countless tweets. Discouraging Instagram posts. Disheartening news reports. Fractured relationships. Conspiracy theories.
The list goes on. It’s no secret that we exist and live in a world that is broken and overwhelming. And yet, it all seems to have heightened over the last few years with a global pandemic, political strife and just plain, ‘ol day-to-day life.
The other day, I was having a conversation with one of my dearest friends. I asked how she was doing and her reply stood out to me.
“Overwhelmed. Just constantly overwhelmed with life.”
She went on to explain that she had a lot on her plate: between regular work, relationships and planning. I could see the weariness and exhaustion all over her face. She went on to add that she was also physically, mentally and emotionally drained from being on her phone. Every time she logged onto Facebook or Instagram, she was immediately accosted by bad or sad news. You know what I’m talking about?
I could tell that it wasn’t just normal life and work that was overwhelming her, but the loud and heavy world that we live. In that moment, I didn’t know what to do but to scoop her up in a big hug and listen.
Chances are, you can relate to that story of my friend. If you’ve ever used the words, “loud”, “overwhelming” or “discouraging” to describe the world and how you’re feeling… you’re not alone.
The reality is, we live in a sinful, fractured world. Now, I don’t want to be a Debbie-Downer. Don’t worry — the hope and antidote to this feeling is coming soon. But none of these feelings should come as a surprise to us.
Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33a, emphasis added.)
Prior to this, Jesus had just encouraged his disciples to remain in Him as the vine (John 15) and also promised them that their sorrow will always turn to joy in Him (John 16:16-24). He “said all of these things” that they would have peace. But, the guarantee was that they, the disciples, and you and I, will have tribulation and trials.
That doesn’t sound like a very pleasant promise, right? You may be thinking, “Thanks but no thanks, Jesus. I’d rather take your promise for peace or hope or salvation. I don’t want this tribulation promise.”
But here’s the key point we’re missing: Jesus made this offer in the most unlikely circumstance. This was right before Judas would march through the Garden of Gethsemane with a band of soldiers to arrest and eventually, crucify Jesus. This was Jesus’ way of saying that he had more than enough peace to give to his disciples.
When Jesus promised tribulation (aka trouble or hardships), he wasn’t kidding around. When we become a Christian, we are given so much but we are also still prone to hardships. Think of it this way: Adam and Eve sent the world into sin and hardship. God could of stopped it, yes. But why didn’t he?
The answer is simple: So that He could set his grand rescue story into motion. So He could send his son Jesus to save the world and bring them into a new covenant. So that they would be lights in a dark world and give the opportunity for mankind to know a better and lasting sacrifice. When we think about it that way, it’s truly a gift.
Now, I didn’t share the whole passage in John 16:33. I left out a crucial part… intentionally. Let’s finish it together.
“… in the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b)
Victory. Plain and simple. Jesus proclaimed the truth of his victory over tribulation. After telling his disciples that tribulation was promised, He comforted them and strengthened them with his victory. In doing so, he also promised them and you and I the victory. This wasn’t just Jesus’ victory — He was extending it to us too.
You see, sweet friend… knowing that Jesus has overcome the world, meaning crushed death and tribulation for good, brings us good cheer. It brings us hope. It brings us peace. It brings us confidence that Jesus is in control.
So now what? What does this verse mean for me when I’m overwhelmed by the world? When I’m overwhelmed by my life and the noise around me? From what we’ve just learned about Jesus and his victory, let’s get practical, shall we?
When the world is loud and overwhelming, I will…
- Run to the Rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61)
King David wrote Psalm 61 from a place of reflection. We know that although David was a great man of God, he also made lots of mistakes and found himself in so many trying situations. Psalm 61 was a prayer for help in situations of overwhelm.
In verse two, he says, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” David knew that there would be times that his heart was overwhelmed — by life, work, relationships etc. But in this moments, he held onto these three truths: 1) He needed a rock, a place of stability and security, strong enough to withstand crashing waves or sudden attacks. 2) He needed a rock that was higher than himself, meaning, a place above himself, above his wisdom and above his own abilities. 3) He needed God to lead him to that rock. David was fully aware that he was unable to get there by himself, especially when he was overwhelmed and the world was loud.
News flash! God is that rock. He is that place of stability. He is that place and person that is wiser than all, higher than all, more able than all. He is the only sure guide to lead his people into that safety. Make it your prayer, your aim and your ambition to run to the Rock first. To acknowledge your state of overwhelm and immediately turn and run through practice and consistency.
- Filter everything I see, read and hear through the Word of God. (Romans 12)
The first few verses of Romans 12 warns us that the world will try and conform us to its ungodly pattern. We’re warned that although it may be attractive and loud and seem like the majority, we must resist. Why? Because it goes against God. It does not lead us in the way everlasting.
So what do we do? The answer is for our minds to be transformed. This is the opposite of being conformed, being molded to look like the world. We’re called to think, examine and live differently. To be transformed, we must read God’s Word and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to us. To help us live differently. We must spend regular time in His presence.
This — the Word of God — is our baseline… our foundation… our guidepost for life. And then guess what? If we seek after transformation, we will see proof on the outside. We will be able to see with our eyes and hear with our ears what is good and acceptable and what is not. This will eliminate the overwhelm of the world and the noise around us.
- Rest more than I strive. (Ephesians 2)
Ephesians 2 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, reminding us of how important grace is to our faith and lives. My friend, Ruth Chou Simons says it best: “Grace is recognizing that God has done it all. Grace is realizing that God invited me to sit at his table with the work already done.”
Ephesians 2:8 reminds us that we have been saved through grace, not through our own doing. Not through our striving to do more, be more, achieve more. But through unmerited favor.
So this compels us to rest. To sit and be still in God’s presence. To let His grace wash over us and remind us that He has the victory. That He has completed the work. When we strive and obsess and give into overwhelm, we are not operating out of grace. We are operating out of self-sufficiency. And rest one of the greatest gifts that enables us to relax, remember the gospel, realize that Jesus has already won.
Here’s a fun little graphic to save to your phone 🙂
Tara is a twenty-two year old Christian writer, podcaster and speaker. She humbly runs an online ministry for women to help them know, love and live God’s Word in their own lives. Based in Oregon, Tara has found her purpose in writing, creating, recording podcast episodes and mentoring women. She is a newlywed, married to her high school sweetheart, Michael. You can catch her drinking a good cup of coffee, spending time with her people and serving the Lord on a daily basis.
Follow Tara on Instagram @misstarasun