April 30, 2012

Good and Overwhelmed

This post was written by guest blogger Dr. Brad Evans, husband of Patsy, father of Megan and pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Coventry, Coventry, Connecticut.
     I’ve noticed that my wife, Patsy, uses a word that I don’t. “Overwhelmed.” I observe that, in general, women use it and men don’t. Why?
     Partly, women express their feelings more than men. However, Psalm 42 shows that men, too, can feel overwhelmed. In addition, women seem to multi-task more than men do. All of that multi-tasking catches up with women in the end. For example, to-do lists are helpful but never-ending. The list sits there and mocks its maker. And, feeling overwhelmed may be part of a woman’s nature as the weaker vessel. Men can usually live with a lot more ambiguity in life than women can. I say, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Patsy notices that the bridge is getting closer!

     Here is some pastoral counsel for my overwhelmed sisters in Christ.
     First, read the story of Hannah, Samuel’s mother in I Samuel 1:1-20. Talk about overwhelmed! This is an emotionally laden passage. Look at the emotional terms: Hannah weeps and won’t eat. She is deeply distressed. She speaks of her great anxiety and vexation. She feels worthless.

     Other people aggravate her crisis. (Imagine that!) Her rival, Peninnah, torments her about her inability to conceive.* Hannah has a well meaning, loving and somewhat dense husband. (I can relate.) He asks Hannah: “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” Did she shake her head and think, “He means well but he just doesn’t get it?” And then, she had an insensitive “pastor” named Eli who thought she was drunk. (Could it be that he’d seen other women who dealt with being overwhelmed by “self medicating” in this way?) It must have been hurtful for her to be accused of drunkenness.
What does Hannah do?
            1) She pours out her heart before the Lord. This symbolized the inner crushing of her soul now poured out like so much water on the ground. Look at I Samuel 7:5,6 to see more on this word picture. 
2) She believes that the Lord of hosts will take an interest in her! (vs. 11) This is why she can go away with a joyful countenance before she has even seen the answer to her prayer. This is an important lesson on living by faith, and it shows that faith in the Lord of hosts can give us joy even in the midst of unruly emotions.
3) She worships throughout her struggle. Hannah continues to go to worship as she seeks the Lord in her affliction. After she prays, but before the answer comes, she worships again. When overwhelmed, women are tempted to withdraw from life and not want to be around the Lord’s people. That’s the worst thing you can do. 
4) She goes back to her house (vs. 19). Elizabeth Eliot spoke of returning home after the funeral of her second husband. Her first husband was a missionary martyr and her second died of cancer. She felt overwhelmed. There was a sinkful of dirty dishes. The wisdom that came to her was the exhortation to “Do the next thing.” She did the dishes. Then she did the next thing and kept on going. This is what Hannah does as well.

When you feel overwhelmed by life, remember Hannah, a woman who faced many adversities and still had faith. Pour out your heart before the Lord and worship Him. Believe that He is interested in you. And, do the next thing.
*Note: The Lord permitted two wives due to the immaturity and hardness of heart of his people at the time. This was never God’s original intent nor is it His will in Christ.


  1. Thanks for this, Dad. #3 especially hits home; I find people to be overwhelming, so the last thing I want to do is add more people to my time of overwhelm! Thanks for the encouragement to do the next thing.

  2. Thanks for encouraging me personally when I am overwhelmed, which can occur frequently. You understand women more than you think.


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