How to Deal with Being Overwhelmed

I’m super excited about today’s blog post because we are going to be studying a popular passage of scripture. If you would like to listen to this teaching via video, I actually had the opportunity to share it at my church through one of their pray first calls. I encourage you to go and check it out, but let’s dive in!

1 Kings 19:9-14

There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 

12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 

13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

I’m really drawn to this passage because I often find myself in a place of overwhelm and these verses remind me of God’s love. When the global pandemic hit back in 2020, I didn’t really realize that I was dealing with mild anxiety.

I had a lot of questions for God. Like:

  • Lord, what’s next?
  • How can I take advantage of this season?
  • How can I be faithful with what you’ve given me with and where you’ve placed me?
  • How am I supposed to be a good steward of my time and my resources?
  • What can I be doing with my life right now?
  • How can I be faithful with where I am?

These are questions that I’m always asking myself, but if I’m not careful, it easily creates false pressure to create something, do something new, or make sure that I’m being my definition of successful.

But when God began to reveal the root of my anxiety, He started to settle me with where I was, what I was doing, what He was doing, and how I was living. The best way I can describe it is:

Have you ever been with a friend and you’re just hanging out with each other and you aren’t saying anything? You’re just sitting there enjoying each other’s company and each other’s presence? There’s not a lot going on. It’s really settled and still.

That’s probably the best way I can describe that time of my life with God. I didn’t even know how to really communicate that season when other people asked. But I prayed and asked God to help me communicate it, which is how you’re now reading this blog post!

The truth is when your life is so busy around you, it’s really hard to hear God. Life has a way of making us overwhelmed. Outside of what’s going on in our world like racial injustice, fear, death, and job loss, there are regular living responsibilities like cleaning our house, eating healthy, working out, or taking care of our families.

And if we’re willing to be honest, a lot of us find ourselves in the same place as Elijah.

Background on Elijah

Elijah at this point in the passage of scripture has just experienced the ultimate WWE SmackDown with King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. If I had to put it in five-year-old language, he’s basically giving them the nini nanny, boo-boo.

PS. I love putting the Word in a way that’s really easy to understand. LOL

Anywho, Elijah is BOLD. He basically tells the king, “I’m coming to y’all and about to tell y’all who the real God is. Bring all your prophets. Bring all the people. Y’all think y’all know who Jesus is, but I’m really about to show y’all who the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is.” Right?

And just think about how any natural person in the Bible or even us today would react to something like this. If we were King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, we would probably operate in the, “Don’t come for us unless we send for you” attitude LOL.

So King Ahab and Queen Jezebel are absolutely embarrassed. This whole show has happened in front of the entire nation of Israel, and everyone knows about this whole entire experience. It’s trending on Twitter and in all the news outlets. (Gotta make it plain, okay? LOL)

So not only are King Ahab and Queen Jezebel embarrassed, they’re absolutely disrespected. But it isn’t until Elijah comes to himself that he realizes what he just did. It’s like he had this blackout experience and has finally come back to his right mind.

Now he’s on the run for his life. He’s discouraged. He’s dealing with depression and he’s dealing with suicidal thoughts. He doesn’t even want to live anymore.

He basically tells God, “I’ve had enough. I’m tired of this. Take my life. I’m not any better than my ancestors. I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to be here anymore. This sucks. I hate this. I don’t want to be your prophet. Take my life. I’m done with this.”

It sounds like a pretty familiar place, right? So Elijah runs for his life. He finds himself in a cave and God decides to meet Elijah where he is. He asks Elijah, “what are you doing here?”

Recognizing Your Cave

And I think God is asking us the same question today. Just like Elijah, He’s asking:

  • What are you doing in this place of anxiety?
  • What are you doing in this place of depression?
  • What are you doing in this place of worry?
  • What are you doing in this place of doubt?
  • In this place of frustration, unforgiveness, discontentment or disappointment?
  • What are you doing here?

Elijah responds like many of us respond to God. He says, “I’ve done what you asked me to do. I’ve been faithful. I was obedient. I give. I tithe. I serve. I’m being a good steward of what you’re telling me to do. I’m being faithful. Now I’m all alone. I’m frustrated. I’m discouraged. I’m anxious. I’m uncertain. I don’t know what to do.”

Yet God is so, so faithful because He meets Elijah exactly where he is. That is what’s so amazing because no matter where you are today, God will meet you exactly where you are!

The Bible says that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the cave. God knew what Elijah needed. He didn’t need another WWE Smack Down. He didn’t need another achievement. He didn’t need another miracle. He knew Elijah needed an encounter with Him and that is what God led Elijah to do.

An Encounter with God

God told him to go stand out in the mouth of the cave because His presence was about to pass by. Many of us know this popular passage. God wasn’t in the wind. He wasn’t in the earthquake. He wasn’t in the fire. He was in the whisper.

You’re probably like, “Okay, yeah Hanha. I hear this passage of scripture but what does this mean for my life?” Just to give you a couple of examples, it looks like this.

  • If you’re looking for a new job
  • If you’re looking for what’s next
  • If you’re wondering what to do with your time
  • If you want to know how to take advantage of this season

God hears your cries and your questions, but He’s also saying, “Shhh. I’m here. I have your whole life figured out. My plans and purposes for your life are to prosper you, to give you hope and a future.”

He’s in the gentle whisper.

Or maybe you’re struggling with loneliness. Maybe you don’t have many friends and you’re wondering, “God, I feel alone. I feel like nobody understands what I’m going through. I feel like nobody can figure out how I feel. I feel like no one understands what I’m experiencing.”

God is saying, “Shhhh. I’m your friend. I will always be there for you. I’ll never leave you or forsake you. I’ll always be on your side. I’ll always fight on your behalf.”

He’s in the gentle whisper.

Maybe we’re wondering, “Lord, I just want to be faithful with everything that I have going on. How can I figure out all these things?” And God’s like, “Shhh. I’m a provider. I can take care of you. I know what I’m doing.”

He’s in the gentle whisper.

Finding God In Your Season

Many times we’re looking for God in his displays of power. We’re looking for him in the new: the new job, the new relationship, the new promotion. We’re looking for him in a prophetic word. But the Bible says that it’s not by might, it’s not by power, but by God’s spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

Yes, we can find God in the big powerful moments. The wind of God can blow and we can experience Him. The fire of God can fall and we can experience His power. Even in the earthquake through the shaking and the shifting, we can feel God.

But we can also find Him in the still small moments of our day to day life. When we look back at the passage of scripture, Elijah heard God in the whisper before he went and stood out in front of the cave.

So it wasn’t until Elijah heard God’s whisper that he was able to get closer to God’s presence. It wasn’t until Elijah heard God’s whisper that he was able to hear his next instructions. It wasn’t until Elijah heard the whisper that he was able to get refreshed.

And if you notice, when God asked Elijah the same question a second time, Elijah gave him the same answer. And the truth is, sometimes we’re trying to process all the things we have going on, but it’s not until we’re still enough to hear the gentle whisper that God can show us what we need to do and how we need to do it.

Sometimes we’re looking for what to do. We’re looking for how to make things work. We’re looking for a new schedule. We’re looking for a new strategy. We’re looking for all these things outside of the only way it comes, which is in the presence of God.

It’s hard for our personal encounters with God to happen when we don’t quiet ourselves or make room for Him. But when we do, it’s much easier to hear His gentle whispers of, “I love you. I’ll take care of you. I’ll provide for you. I’ll heal you. I’ll cover you. I’ll make a way for you.”

Final Thoughts

So I hope you enjoyed today’s blog post/teaching. I hope it was encouraging and I’m praying that it will serve as a reminder that God is in the whisper and that he cares about your every desire. He wants you to be still and know that he is God.

Can I end in prayer?

God, thank you for the person reading this blog post. Thank you for their life and everything you’re doing in their life especially in the season. God, I pray that you would help them be still and know that you are God. I pray that you would quiet their spirit and remind them how much you love them. Help them to know that you are on their side and that you were working and fighting on their behalf. Give them a peace that surpasses all understanding that guards the heart and mind and touch them in a special way. In Jesus Name, amen.

Let’s Discuss

Well, I would love to know your takeaway from today’s post. Let me know in the comments what you think and how God has been speaking to you in this season.

Meet Hanha!

Hanha Parham is a Christian author and speaker. Her personal mission is to help woman overcome fear and self-doubt so that they can confidently believe who God has called them to be. She holds a Masters in Divinity with a concentration in pastoral counseling and is currently pursuing her PhD in Christian leadership. Hanha has published two books, Jesus is Bae and The Confessions Project and she is passionate about teaching, equipping, and discipling the body of Christ. When she is not encouraging others or writing her heart out, she loves spending time with loved ones or exploring new coffee shops. 

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