Overwhelmed

Introduction:

Do you have so much on your plate that you’re left feeling overwhelmed and stressed out? In an age of fast paced lifestyles and heightened responsibilities, everywhere we turn is a demand for our attention. On top of the information overload, we are working longer, and taking less time off. The aches and pains of life: cars, air-conditioners, and plumbing that break down, usually at the worse time; relationships gone sour; children who seem allergic to the gospel and who make the same bad choices we did; mounting bills and decreasing resources; and a world that provides little hope.  Sometimes it feels like life is just too much. In this message, we look at the story of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1-24) who was being overwhelmed literately and figuratively.

Bottom Line: God shows His power in your problems.

Something To Talk About:

  1. It just couldn’t get any worse: Jehoshaphat was king of Judah and was being attacked by the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites. A messenger tells the king that a vast army is about to attack him and in verse 3 we read, “Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news…”  He was no doubt feeling a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of being overwhelmed by sheer numbers.
  2. How did Jehoshaphat handle his fear: He handled it by not handling it. Jehoshaphat kept his hands off the problem. Jehoshaphat was in a world of hurt and he simply did not have any answers. He could have panicked. He could have sent out for every available man to join the army. He could have summoned his wisest advisors to help devise a plan of resistance, an emergency defense strategy, or possibly an escape plan for the king. But Jehoshaphat did not seek the advice of man. Instead,  Jehoshaphat sent word to his people to gather with him to seek the Lord, to appeal to Him for His help. “And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:4). Keep clearly in mind that Jehoshaphat did not know what he was going to do. Verse 12 says, “Neither know we what to do.” He did not know what the immediate future held for himself and his people. He knew he did not have the answer. What he did know was the God who does know, the God who knows how to handle every situation. He knew the God who is never surprised, never dismayed, never frightened, never dumbfounded, never worried. He knew the God who knows everything.
  3. The outcome: God answered their prayers. “…the Spirit of the Lord came upon one of the men standing there…This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you…” (2 Chronicles 20:14-17). The next day they rose early in the morning and went out to the place God had said. “At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves” (vs 22). So when the people of Judah came to the place where they could look out on the wilderness, they only saw dead bodies. They did not have to use any weapon—the battle was already finished. Their only task was to gather spoils from the fallen armies, though that was no small task. There was so much precious jewelry and valuables that they were busy gathering it for three days.
  4. So what do we do when we are overwhelmed: God cares about His people today, just as He cared about the people of Israel in the Bible. That doesn’t mean we’ll never have trials or challenges, and at times feel overwhelmed. That is the time we need God’s help. An answer from God might not come as fast or as clearly as it did to Jehoshaphat. Still, when we seek God and do our part to turn to Him, we can go forward, trusting God to take care of us. We might not know how long the problem will last or how much we will be challenged, but we can know that in the end God will save us and turn it all to blessings.

Questions:

  1. Are you feeling a little overwhelmed by your current circumstances?
  2. Have you ever encountered a foe that overwhelmed your resources? How did you respond?
  3. Jehoshaphat wanted to honestly seek the advice of the Lord. Do you ask God about all things?  If God doesn’t respond immediately or the way you want or not at all, do you then go and do your own thing?
  4. Was Jehoshaphat’s fear okay? What is the difference between this reaction and long-term fear?
  5. Can a person pray without faith? Explain. Do you ever find times when you find yourself praying without really talking to the Lord? 
  6. What would you do different this week as a result of this message?

Take One Thing Home with You:

“O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” (2 Chronicles 20:12).

An enemy too strong, resources with which to resist too weak, and no option is not the position you want to find yourself in. It would seem a wise move to surrender and throw yourself on the mercy of the vastly superior foe. But when we add God to the equation, everything changes. Life is not easy when you are overwhelmed, when your only viable options seem to be helplessness and vulnerability. Not knowing what to do simply adds to the feeling of being overpowered and overwhelmed. That is exactly what happened to Jehoshaphat—and what happens to us.

It is when we are in this state that we often see the intervention and power of God. Jehoshaphat recognized the awesome power of his enemy. He recognized the limitations of his wisdom. This king recognized the fact that his strength was insufficient against any enemy so strong. But Jehoshaphat recognized the all-sufficiency of his God. He was wise in that he locked his eyes on the One who had the power to deliver and save him. 

“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

So if you have been crushed and overwhelmed beyond your ability to endure, including those who may even “expected to die,” in your relationships—in marriage and parenting, extended family and friendships, you have hope in a God that can do the impossible.