A few months ago, I was assisting my wife during a photo shoot. She was photographing a gender reveal for a couple’s baby, and for some of the pictures, she needed blue balloons in the background. After we arrived with the balloons, I needed to run ahead with the balloons and set some things up while she waited for the couple. As I waited for them to arrive, the wind kept tangling the balloons and blowing them in my face! Frustrated, I attempted to untangle these balloons as I waited for my wife and the couple to arrive.
Have you ever tried to untangle balloons? It’s difficult and takes some work. When you add windy conditions to the mixture, the task becomes downright frustrating. Can you picture my scene? I’m sitting on a bridge, holding all five blue balloons, trying to untangle them. I have two in each hand and one in my mouth! I would untangle one of the balloons all the way down to the anchor, only to find that the same balloon had already become tangled with the others near the top! While dealing with tangled balloons can be frustrating in a trivial way, untangling the “balloons” of a stress-filled life can be truly overwhelming.
Tangled balloons are a picture of those times in life when it seems that every time you turn around, a new task is being added to an unending to-do list. Your work wants you to work overtime, but there are also revival services at your church this week. Revival weeks are busy: you rush home at the end of your shift, with just enough time to pick up the family and head to the service. Some may stress over extra homework due at the end of the month, only to be set-back by the flu.. You try to manage a few rowdy kids, all while trying to prepare the house for the guests you are hosting for dinner. You are asked to serve in another ministry at church, but you feel like you’re already overwhelmed with your other responsibilities. All of these things are going on at the same time, and it seems like there is no end in sight. Once you find the rare opportunity to take a break, all you can think about is how your life is one big, tangled mess.
We all try to handle this feeling in many different ways. Some turn to the golf course. Some squeeze a stress ball. Some people go to extreme lengths to find comfort, resorting to substance abuse. Whatever the case may be, trying to overcome being overwhelmed is a difficult task if you don’t have the right answers.
If there is anyone in the Bible who felt overwhelmed, it would be David. Right before gaining his rightful position as king of Israel, David found himself running for his life—talk about overwhelming! Webster’s 1828 defines overwhelmed as “to overspread or crush beneath something violent and weighty.” I have no doubt that is what David felt as he ran from Saul day after day. He felt like this pressure was crushing him. Psalm 61:1-4 records David’s prayer during this overwhelming moment, and we also find how David overcame being overwhelmed:
To the chief Musician upon Neginah, A Psalm of David. Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah. (Psalms 61:1-4)
1. David requested God’s help.
Much like a wave tackles a boat in a raging storm, David was overwhelmed at the constant struggle he faced. In the midst of this dark time, David didn’t turn to a self-help book or a round of golf. He pleaded for God to take care of him, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” He wasn’t talking about a literal, physical boulder here. He’s referring to God Himself: This Rock is more sturdy, more safe, and more secure than any boulder. This Rock is where David wanted to be.
2. David remembered God’s previous safety.
From his problems as a shepherd, to the persecutions of Saul, David remembered how God had been with him every step of the way. When facing the lion, the bear, the giant, and now the threat of Saul, David had never been without protection. David took time to remember that, “..thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” He remembered that God never stopped protecting him, especially in times of difficulty.
3. David resolved to trust God.
When David was overwhelmed, he said this, “I will abide in thy tabernacle forever. I will trust in the covert of thy wings.” This verse conveys a strong resolution to trust in God. This wasn’t the little engine that could—I think I can, I think I can, I think I can—David knew that his power rested in someone beside himself, and he resolved with everything in him to trust God. David strove to trust in God. It’s obvious that David longed for a close intimacy with God when he referenced the covert of God’s “wings.” He was using a word picture to talk of God’s close protection and care. As a mother bird senses danger and covers her babies with her wings, God protects His children from harm.
Much like David, you and I can find relief from being overwhelmed. First, we must request God’s help. Many times, my first instinct (and perhaps yours) is to try to handle everything on my own. What am I doing wrong that is making this situation so hard? How can I better handle this? In reality, the first thing we need to do is run to God and ask Him to lead us to Him. He is Rock that is higher than we are. He is more able than we are. Then, remember the past times that He’s provided safety. God has always been there for you. He’s always come through. Time could never tell how much God has provided for you and me. When hard times come, maybe we need to just step back and think about some of those amazing situations where God came through for us. Lastly, resolve to trust in Him again. Remain close to God in these situations. Spend extra time in His Word. Spend time in fellowship with other believers who point you to Him. Don’t sacrifice your relationship with Jesus—make it deeper.
Balloons are hard to untangle in windy conditions, but when we follow the example of David in Psalm 61, we’ll find that God can untangle any mess.