Life sometimes feels like an overwhelming avalanche of diverse situations, problems, and emotions. The older I get the more the pressures of life seem to squeeze me to uncomfortable breaking points. From marriage, to kids, to the mortgage, to issues and pressures at work, there never seems to be space enough to catch my breathe. Can I get a witness? Anyone else feel this way? Am I alone in these thoughts and feelings? Certainly, every single one of us has felt this way at one time or another in our lives.
You see, the difficulty with life in a fallen world is that “normal life” is stressful enough as it is. In other words, just being a responsible human being and doing what is required to make a living for ourselves is pressure enough for many of us. So, add a little fear, a little exhaustion, a little offense here or there, and a little confusion to the mix and suddenly life has gone from being merely stressful to overbearing…overwhelming.
Many of us in an attempt to relieve some of the pressures of life seek out and sink into unhealthy and sinful activities (i.e. stress eating, pornography, impulse buying, infidelity, etc.). Others of us, look for an escape from the pressures of life in socially acceptable ways, but spiritually dry ways (i.e. TV watching, working out, playing video games, etc.). So, when the stress and pressures of life start to mount and overwhelm your soul, what should you do instead? Well, if you find yourself kissing burnout and definitely if you find yourself scared, tired, offended, or perplexed…beware! You are ripe to fall to temptation. So instead of seeking solace in sinful activities or spiritually dry activities, do the following instead:
1) STOP and get alone with God and pray. Honestly tell God how you feel. Too frustrated or distracted to come up with the words to pray? Look to the Psalms. The beauty of the Psalms is that sometimes the Psalms not only speak TO us in our moments of pain, but they speak FOR us when we just don’t have the words. And please don’t think that the Psalms are detached from the realities of your life. Certainly, there are psalms of praise, but also psalms of distress and sadness. All of the Scriptures, but especially the Psalms, present to us life as it really is while simultaneously giving to us space to release all kinds of emotions in ways that are authentic, God-honoring, and helpful (see for example Psalms 46, 63, 73, and 88).
2) STOP and get together with a trusted friend to emote/vent. Indeed, not only do we need to release our burdens to the Lord in prayer, but it is wise to also release some of our pent-up aggressions and frustrations to a good and godly friend. Certainly, a trusted friend will provide a listening ear and great comfort to you, but your friend might be led to give you some advice and counsel in the midst of your pain. Be open to their wisdom! Proverbs 27:6a states, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Sometimes our friends offer seemingly strange and uncomfortable advice amid our pressures and pain, but we should love them enough to listen to their counsel.
3) STOP and remind yourself of God’s greatness AND goodness. When life gets overwhelming, it is so easy to doubt the very character of God. We are tempted to think He’s unloving, unwise, unfair, or aloof to the situations of our lives, but you must battle these thoughts with radical resolve in God and trust His character, knowing that He has a plan and it’s all playing out for His glory and your good (Rom. 8:28). Don’t buy into the lie that the stress and pressures of life are evidences against a good and great God. No, indeed, they are manifestations of His goodness and greatness as He demonstrates, in the midst of our difficulties, that “[His] power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).