Do you ever get overwhelmed? I do! And I don’t relish those times either. Most often, they are times when I stack too much on my plate and don’t feel I can meet the deadlines I’ve given myself. Sometimes, though, I am overwhelmed because of outside circumstances. When I get those sinking feelings, I pray and usually the darkness lifts pretty quickly. If not, I ask others to begin praying and then watch the veil lift. I don’t mind saying that I’ve had more than my fair share of overwhelming moments.
Lately most of them have been related to this virus. I simply don’t have the answers I want and need. I want to be able to tell our members the next steps we will take and I can’t. I want to be able to say let’s move forward, but I can’t. The burden of leading through this thing is overwhelming. But as I pray, that feeling will lift and we can move forward. I have an inkling many people who struggle with dark thoughts and darker actions do so because they do not know how effective prayer and especially prayer with others can be.
One of the most overwhelming moments I’ve ever experienced was in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. All of my belongings went underwater. Everything I cherished was gone. I was watching the news at a shelter when I saw the street sign one block from my house with water almost covering it. I knew my apartment was a goner. But I was surrounded by friends. I had a man take his shirt off and give it to me. Others bought me tools to replace the ones I’d lost. Others gave me places to stay while I put my life back together. In my darkness I was buoyed. Still, this wasn’t my most overwhelming moment.
A few weeks after the hurricane, I was working for a disaster kitchen in New Orleans. We were feeding all of the search and rescue teams coming in and out of the city. We’d have breakfast for them at 4:00am when they came in from their boat rides and supper for them again at 5:00 when they went out. After two weeks of working with this crew, I was at my breaking point. Not only had I lost everything, I was counseling these men and women who were working so hard to protect our city. They would come inside each morning in tears. At 25 years old, this was the darkest place I’d ever seen…and it was getting darker.
I remember reading Lamentations during this time. I know! Poor choice, right? Not really. The way I saw it, Jeremiah was in a very similar spot. I could identify with him. He was sitting in the ashes of his city, one of the only ones left after all of his kin were taken into slavery in Babylon. He lost everything. His little book is only five chapters long. It is filled to the brim with some of the most mournful wanderings in the Bible. But in the very middle of the book there is a glimmer of hope.
Jeremiah writes “I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord…But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I will hope in Him.”
Isn’t that powerful! Can’t you feel the weight of Jeremiah’s darkness and see the dawn breaking over the night? I’m telling you, when I first read those words it was like hope flooded my soul. I still didn’t have any answers to my questions, but I knew there was hope. Hope meant I would make it through; it meant this darkness wasn’t going to last forever; it meant God had not forgotten me. This was all I needed to go to sleep in peace and wake up without feeling the weight of the world was on my shoulders.
Can you relate to my ramblings today? Is it possible you are overwhelmed, too, right now? I can promise you there is no hope in the media. Scrolling Facebook or binge watching your favorite TV show will not bring you any hope at all. You will not be any lighter and the darkness will not lift if these are your tactics. Oprah and Dr. Oz have nothing whatsoever to offer you if this is your lot in life. HOPE COMES FROM THE LORD, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. Unless you are talking to Him, the darkness will not lift. And if, as you pray, the darkness still lingers, ask someone to join you in your petition. Remember, joy comes in the morning! All you are trying to do is make it until the sun comes up!
COVID-19 has cast quite a cloud over this old world. So many are wrestling with heavy problems and this virus has only made them heavier. The prolonged isolation has put us in a state of fear and suspicion. Seclusion only magnifies our despair. The CDC is offering guidelines to protect us from the virus, but who will offer us guidelines to protect our soul from fear? Jesus is His name. “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in Him!”