Life has its overwhelming moments and however hard you try they will occur to you now and again, and there is no way of escaping their suffocating effect. Believers sometimes are at great loss wondering why such inundation comes their way and sometimes they are staggered by its vehemence and ferocity. It is as if, out of nowhere, they are hit by a speeding train, and the train continues to hit them again and again until the accumulated blows rise to a crescendo and something must give and hopefully not your sanity. Overwhelming moments have the capacity to do one of two things; they either crush you spirit to permanent defeatism or they drive you to discover your inner strength.
There is a saying that goes like this: When the going gets tough the tough gets going.
The plain truth is that no power on earth, be they devils or humans, can crush your spirit, vanquish you, demolish you every resistance and triumph over you except YOU ALLOW IT.
That is exactly correct, the believer's will cannot be broken by any external forces, nor can it be brought under subjection without his or her consent.
Believers can, and often do, spit in the face of Satan, metaphorically speaking, when he is at his most fearsome and belligerent.
Satan and his acolytes try to conquer you through fear. This is their most powerful weapon and they use it every day and everywhere. As long as believers (and non-believers too) accommodate fear; fear in all its hideous dimensions, then circumstances can overwhelm them.
The hideous dimensions of fear are manifold.
The single woman, the breadwinner and head of her household, is propositioned by her lecherous boss. Everyone knows jobs are scarce, and for her even harder to get because she is unskilled and afraid to be out of work. He hints that some workers will be made redundant. What will she do?
The muscle-bound thug down the street keeps asking you for money because he says he can't pay his bills. He keeps telling you that he will keep your kids from being kidnapped or assaulted on their way to and from school. Is he threatening to harm you little ones if you do not pay up? How will you respond?
The corrupt policeman asks you to spy on your neighbours, get him secret information for his own evil purposes. He hints that you committed an indiscretion in the past, it's on the police files and you would be horrified if your neighbours got to find out about it. He thinks he has you at his mercy. How will you proceed?
Fear is at the root of people becoming overwhelmed.
We fear for our lives, for our children's safety and security, for our neighbours' and friends' well-being. Visceral fear, mental fear and all types of debilitating fear consume us.
The Bible has something important to say to believers with this spirit of fear and trepidation and something we should all know by now:
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7
Believers do not have the spirit of fear, like unbelievers, but at times they are still overwhelmed by circumstances and feel like they are weighed down, besieged and doomed.
Maybe we can learn something about this situation from those who have been there, done that (as the saying goes) and who better, as an example, than Jesse's youngest son.
David had more overwhelming moments than anyone else in Scripture and that was because he had a most colourful life; he was the youngest of many siblings, then a shepherd, then a king, the husband of 500 women, a redoubtable warrior-king and a priest-king in the tradition of Israel's ancient monarchy.
Here are two verses from Psalm 61, a Psalm that says so much about the lively and unpredictable David who, you must remember, was a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22).
"Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." (Psalm 61: 1-2)
This short Psalm of just eight verses has puzzled a lot of people over the centuries and it does so even today. However, although many things about this Psalm are pure speculation yet some things we know for certain.
David had lots of overwhelming moments and this prayer or cry came during one such episode. Was it the time he ran for his life from his son Absalom; was it the time he fled from King Saul after he was nearly assassinated with a javelin; was it the time he had to deal with another son for incest that eventually led to murder; or was it when he was battling the Syrians and looked like being defeated? No one really knows since it could so easily be any of these plus a lot others besides.
David had run to "the end of the earth" which is where he was now and he in truth had nowhere else to go but as so often with David, he did not forget to cry unto the Lord as here, "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer." (Verse 1) He knew whence his help would come for he was so often in similar situations as here, "For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me." (Psalm 38:4) but he knew where to get help: "Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation." (Psalm 38:22)
The crux of the matter is that at times you will be overwhelmed, whether by your own folly and the guilt of your failings, or the acts of providence that come on you as unmerited as a destructive tornado or bolt of lightning, or the vicissitudes of life that come together in a perfect storm of travails and sorrows, the one constant is that to survive and prevail you have to know, need to know that there is a reliable source that never fails.
David puts it like this, "...when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." (Psalm 61: 2)
For David, when he came to such overwhelming situations, he never once gave in and succumbed to the suffocating gloominess and despair, he neither permitted his hope to be crushed nor his fortitude to break down; but time and again he reached for the outstretched hand that he knew was there to lead him to that dependable rock on which he could stand.
He could have asked for the assistance of his mighty men of war but he did not.
He had allies aplenty from far and near but in these circumstances they were useless.
He could have done what Lot's wife wanted her husband to do (curse God and die - Job 2: 9) but he did not go there.
He pleaded with God to lead him to the rock. That Rock is none other than Jesus Christ himself for when all seems to be lost and the final blow is set to be struck then the believer has but one final, impregnable refuge in Christ, and I like the way John Gill puts it in his Bible Commentary:
"...Christ is meant, the Rock of Israel, the Rock of our salvation, and our refuge. He is higher than David, and all the kings of the earth; higher than the angels in heaven, and higher than the heavens themselves...and who by his height is able to protect and defend his people from all their enemies; and by the shade he casts to refresh and comfort them; and by the sufficiency in him to supply all their wants; for he is as a rock impregnable."
Jesus Christ our Rock is there for every believer, anytime, anywhere and always. Oh how Satan must fear this Rock for he knows how God works, "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." (Isaiah 65:24)
When our overwhelming moment comes we need to know that we can be lifted and put on solid ground and no matter whose fault it is that we are thus encumbered, Jesus never fails to act with dispatch and sufficiency. All believers can say this with absolute assurance:
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
For we know from our own experience that:
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Yes, David was overwhelmed many times, and he always reached out to God, took hold of that mighty hand and was lifted again and again.
So believers great and small, strong and weak, young in the faith or matured and settled, can do just like David did when he had his overwhelming moments; ask God in his mercy and love to come to your rescue and boldly plead:
Lift me again Lord.
He always does and do not forget it.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013
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