Think for a moment about what it means to feel overwhelmed.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of listening to Brian McLaren at Truett Seminary (Baylor University) do a question-and-answer session with Truett students. Many of his remarks dealt with very serious and large global problems. After several points, he said, "And if that doesn’t completely depress you…" He is right. These problems can be completely overwhelming and depressing.
Maybe you’ve had the experience of going to a conference and coming back with a new fire in your eyes. Or, as I did recently, you had lunch with a friend that was so encouraging and inspiring. Perhaps you read a book that you could hardly put down because it was so stimulating. When you finished it, you felt genuinely inspired. You then returned to your everyday world only to find that there was some sort of mess going on that was silly and trivial. At times I have felt frustrated by such silliness and at other times I have wanted to just give up. Will we ever get beyond these things that really don’t matter? Will we ever get beyond our own smallness and self-centeredness?
Calvin Miller, in his book O Shepherd Where Art Thou?, writes:
It seems that almost any attempt at anything noble, including love and pastoral care, are always challenged immediately by our propensity toward hating others who are in the same business with us. I was always amazed as a pastor how quickly the flock lost their ability to focus on the work of God because of their need to get the credit for some "Christian venture" or to express their vengeance toward somebody who professed to love Christ just as they did and get the credit for it all.
Have you experienced anything similar to what Miller is talking about? Now that can be overwhelming and discouraging.
Maybe you can connect with a prayer that James A. Harnish wrote:
Where do you find the power to hang in there in this world?
Where do you find the power to keep going
when the going really gets tough?
Where do you find the power to continue
to believe in love in a world that’s filled with hate?
Where do we find the power to continue to work for peace
in a world addicted to violence?
Where do we find the power to believe in good
in a world that is filled with so much suffering and pain?
Where do we find the power to continue
to believe that ultimately God’s kingdom will come
and God’s will as revealed in Jesus, will be done in all of the creation?
Where do you find the power to be a disciple of Jesus in this world?
(cited in Miller, pg. 20)
Life can be overwhelming. Financial problems can be discouraging. Church can be disheartening. Families can be hurtful. People can be petty and childish at times. (Hmmm. So can I.) Yet, the good news is that God is greater than my greatest discouragement.
I love Paul’s words to Timothy (I Timothy 6, The Message):
But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life — a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.
I’m charging you before the life-giving God and before Christ, who took his stand before Pontius Pilate and didn’t give an inch: Keep this command to the letter, and don’t slack off. Our Master, Jesus Christ, is on his way. He’ll show up right on time, his arrival guaranteed by the Blessed and Undisputed Ruler, High King, High God. He’s the only one death can’t touch, his light so bright no one can get close. He’s never been seen by human eyes — human eyes can’t take him in! Honor to him, and eternal rule! Oh, yes.