Ministry can be overwhelming. To be honest, all of life can be overwhelming at times. One minute you feel like everything is under control. You are seeing fruit in different areas of life. The weeks seem to have a peace and a flow to them. Then all of a sudden, it seems like the bottom falls out. Like you hit a brick wall, and you’re finished. You’re now overwhelmed.

This happened to me last week. I participate weekly in an inner-city youth outreach called Curbside Ministries. Each week members of my community group go to a local community center and engage students through sharing about Jesus, playing games, feeding them a meal, etc. All winter long, we have been weekly encouraged by the questions the students are asking about the gospel and the changes we are seeing in their lives. Every week it seems like I get to have a gospel conversation with a student.

Everything was going smooth and easy until last Tuesday. We resumed doing Curbside outside in the local park. Outside is where the kids get crazier. Outside is where you have less control. Outside is where the numbers multiply and the ages of people participating get into the 20’s. Outside is where everything changes. Tuesday was the night - due to more fights, more chaos and more cussing - that I started to feel overwhelmed. I wanted to scream, “We are losing control here people!”

When the Equation Breaks Down

We all feel overwhelmed at times. What we don’t stop to think about is what these feelings say about our theology. What these feelings reveal about how we see or really how we are not seeing God. Here is what I mean:

Being overwhelmed means you have taken God out of the equation.

When we become overwhelmed, with assignments at work, or with our difficult neighbors, or with an illness that is draining our family, or with the bills that have piled up in the kitchen, that’s when we have taken God out of the equation. That is what had happened to me at the park last Tuesday night. I forget that God is still working.

That’s what happened to Elisha’s servant. In 2 Kings 6, the king of Syria sends a great army on chariots to overtake the people of God. They move into the city and surround the whole city with men, horses, and chariots. Talk about being overwhelmed. Imagine waking up early in the morning to see the whole city surrounded by chariots, horses, and a great army waiting to consume you. You would have been like Elisha’s servant who ran to the great prophet and said “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15).

And listen to what happens next. . .

"Elisha said, 'Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' Then Elisha prayed and said, 'O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.' So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha, (2 Kings 6:16-17).

The servant of Elisha was overwhelmed because he had taken God out of the equation. He had seen the great army that had surrounded the city, but he had not seen how God was still working in their midst. He was consumed by chariots rather than being consumed by his sovereign Lord who was still working.

Pray to be Overwhelmed

These are the words that I opened the Bible up to that night when I returned from the park. I was broken as I meditated on this story. I was Elisha’s servant. I had lacked faith. God was gracious to humble me and show me that I am too often overwhelmed by my circumstances rather than being overwhelmed by His majesty and glory.

The truth is that rowdy teenagers are no match for a glorious God who wants our city changed by the gospel. A difficult boss is no match for a sovereign Lord who has placed me at my job for his glory. A marriage on the rocks is no match for a loving God who passionately desires the love of Jesus to be displayed through you and your spouse. There is nothing that we face in this life that is any match for the power and glory of our King.

So let’s pray. . .

Lord, let me be more overwhelmed by your power than the power of the enemy. Let me be more overwhelmed by your grace than the sin that so easily entangles me. Let me be more overwhelmed by your love than the world that tries to seduce me. Let me be more overwhelmed by your providence than the current circumstances that I find myself in. Let me be more overwhelmed by your holiness than the empty pleasures of this world. Let me more overwhelmed by your peace than the turmoil that surrounds my life. Lord, let me be overwhelmed by you and your Glory and let your glory overwhelm the world around me.