A Blueprint for Remaining Steady and Strong
This past week I read several articles cycling through social media on how overwhelmed teachers are feeling this year. High hopes of returning to “normal” have been shattered by the cloud of COVID and the effort to make up for lost instructional time. Many teachers feel beat down; worse yet, many are contemplating other careers. It all frightens me.
Now more than ever we need Christian educators in our schools. Granted, we can’t ignore reality. Teaching can be overwhelming, especially now. However, we can remain steady and strong despite the ongoing demands of being an educator. It may not be easy, but God didn’t make a mistake when He called us into teaching. One of my favorite verses that I keep posted by my computer is 2 Corinthians 9:8.
God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. (AMP)
Did you happen to notice the phrase “self-sufficient in Him?” It isn’t about our own self-reliance or self-confidence. I’m here to tell you self-sufficiency is overrated. Trying to accomplish anything in our own strength might work for a while, but eventually self-effort is never enough. Believe me…I know. I’ve tried more times than I would like to admit. While I don’t have it all figured out, I have discovered a blueprint for remaining steady and strong when I am feeling overwhelmed. I’m praying you find it helpful too!
We need to remember that we are not alone. If you are a believer in Christ, you have a helper. He is not just any ‘ole helper but a powerful, constant companion. The Bible is full of descriptions of this helper, the Holy Spirit. I find the following verses so helpful. The color-coding reflects what I need to remember when feeling overwhelmed.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
These verses only scratch the surface of what the Helper does for us. Believers don’t have to succumb to defeat or anxiety when feeling overwhelmed. I’m not suggesting we deny our feelings. However, I am suggesting we remember we are not in this alone. We can remain steady and strong when we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us.
Surrender control of your situation to God. When we ask Jesus into our life, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts (Ephesians 1:13-14, Luke 11:13). However, the Holy Spirit living in our hearts is not the same as the Holy Spirit filling our lives.
Ann Graham Lotz in her book Jesus in Me uses an analogy of being invited into someone’s home. You may be invited into a friend’s home, but you only have restricted access. In other words, you may come into my kitchen, but I’m not inviting you into my bedroom! The same truth can be applied to the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Does the Holy Spirit have access to every nook and cranny of our lives, or do we close the door to certain areas where we want control? Living a spirit-filled life involves surrender. What it means to relinquish control is beyond the scope of this blog, but I’m sure we can all agree that remaining steady and strong without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives is impossible.
Ann Graham Lotz said it beautifully when she noted, “When you restrict His access in your life, you give up being filled with the Spirit and you deny yourself access to all His spiritual blessings, including His power and eternal purpose in your life.”(1) Relinquishing our need to control and trusting God’s provision in our lives will prevent us from being overwhelmed. I am confident of this! (Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6: 31-32)
Have you ever noticed that what we say to ourselves and others often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy? For example, when people ask me how I am, I often refer to my level of busyness. I might say something like, “I’m super busy, but I’m hanging in there!” I find the more I say how busy I am, the more anxiety I feel. It makes me feel busier than I really am!
I think the same is true when we feel overwhelmed. What we say to ourselves or even mull over and over in our minds starts to take on a life of its own. The more we say and think we are overwhelmed, the more overwhelmed we become. I find it a bit humorous that there is a verse in Proverbs that refers to this very thing!
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7
As I said earlier, I am not suggesting we ignore reality. In fact, I feel it is important we face reality. However, HOW we face reality is critical. We can either profess the negative, or we can choose to acknowledge that God is in control of the situation. If you are feeling overwhelmed, try reciting the following: “I am feeling overwhelmed, but I believe God is working through my circumstances to show me his faithfulness. God has never failed me in the past, and I know I will get through this.”
There are many synonyms for “recite,” but one I stumbled across is “get on a soapbox.” What if, when we are feeling overwhelmed, instead of allowing those feelings to fester, we got on our soapbox and professed God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives? What if we personalized Scriptures and recited God’s Word to ourselves and others?
“I will cast my cares on Him, because he cares for me.” (I Peter 5:7)
“God is able to do far more abundantly that I could ever ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)
“With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
When our thoughts and words reflect our faith in an Almighty God, we are able to remain steady and strong despite our overwhelming circumstances.
We often don’t know why things happen the way they do or why things have to be so difficult. However, when waves of uncertainty and angst cause you to feel overwhelmed, you have a blueprint! Let’s change the narrative. We can remain steady and strong when we remember we are not alone, relinquish our control of our circumstances to our God, and recite aloud how faithful and good our Heavenly Father is.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20
(1) Anne Graham Lotz, Jesus in Me, page 251. https://www.annegrahamlotz.org/jesus-in-me/