Sunday Live Stream: Overwhelm

Phil 4:4-7
July 12, 2020

Have you ever felt overwhelmed?

We are taking a one week break from our “Are We There Yet Series” as I felt God saying to speak on something different this weekend. But do not fear, road trip stories will be continuing! Among the many great stories that came in over the last several weeks was from one family, who by the end of it, I am sure felt very overwhelmed.

Tensions were already high as they were taking a trip into the USA to visit a relative who was given a tough health diagnosis. The week leading up to the trip, their youngest got what was considered to be a routine vaccine. Except in this case, she ended up getting sick from the live vaccine. She seemed to mostly recover, and life was good. Everyone got in the van and left.

Then, it hit again. Within hours, mom and one of the other children were sick, another child was complaining of being uncomfortable, and being on a budget, the only place to sleep was in the van for rest stops on the way down. Screaming kids, sick kids, sick adults, no where to sleep that is comfortable. You feeling overwhelmed yet?

Of course, no story ever stops there. The sickness with the one child only got worse. Mom wasn’t sleeping for a couple days, and everyone was just worn right down.

On the way home, following the instructions of a local sheriff to get to the highway, a turn was missed and they ended up lost, in the middle of what seemed to be nowhere, with no cell service, in the yard of a backwoods, Tennessee mountain trailer home. They did get turned around, and maybe now things would look up.

Until mom got what appeared to be food poisoning (and I hope I am getting this detail right), but the sickness the family thought they were done with, and what seemed so bad then, was like a small sneeze in comparison to what awaited the next 36 hours.

They finally did make it back home to Canada, then dad got sick.

-> Who thinks this family was overwhelmed? Makes me overwhelmed just hearing about it. And I didn’t tell you most of the details (for that talk to the family directly. The story is painful). But oh man….talk about rough.
-> Everyone feels overwhelmed at times. Everyone gets stressed. Everyone gets anxiety. Everyone has struggles that seem to get the best of them. Some things that overwhelm are small: For example, I don’t like rodents, and if I think one is either going to crawl on me as I sleep, or fly around my head, I feel some anxiety.
-> But we have a lot of things that can overwhelm don’t we? Family troubles, financial worries, job losses, health concerns, problems at school, bullies, a loss of a pet, a conflict with a friend, a car breaking down, the house needing major repairs, need I go on? And that is before we even flip on the news to hear about nations fighting, political instability, crazy world leaders, scandals, violence, etc… We would have a lot less anxiety if we would stop listening to the news.
-> Everyone struggles.

How will you respond to being overwhelmed by life?

-> I invite you to turn to Philippians 4:4-7. Going to unpack that this morning.
-> The church in Philippi (to whom Philippians is written) was first church Paul started in Eastern Europe. Believed to be written around AD60-62 which was later in Paul’s life.
-> Written in the context of uncertainty and danger (were they overwhelmed?)
a) Paul is in prison, and muses about his own potential execution
b) People are preaching, imitating him, but with mal intent
c) The church is in a Roman stronghold – there was strong patriotic nationalism in Philippi due to army veterans who settled there, which then led to persecution when Christ was presented as King instead of the Emperor of Rome.
d) Nero was the Emperor of Rome (He was a tyrant who felt he answered to no one – he was brutal, strong handed)
e) Conflict in the church (between Euodia and Syntyche)
->The whole of the letter revolves around key theme expressed in Phil 2:5. Asks the question: “How does a follower or Jesus live like a follower of Jesus in anxious times?”
-> In that context we read Phil 4:4-7

Phil 4:4
1) Choose true joy
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Paul is saying: Pay attention – this is important! States ‘rejoice’ 2X with emphasis
‘Always’ – In the face of your trials, in defiance to them bringing you down, rejoice always… (Paul was living this first hand!!)
Being able to rejoice was possible in being independent from their immediate surroundings, and being based in a relationship to Christ. Christ brings joy (ROM 5:1-2)
In the face of our trials, the strength Christ brings will be our joy (Neh 3:10)
-> Even though they were facing all sorts of trials, even though Paul was living through overwhelming and anxious times, a follower of Jesus lived like a follower of Jesus (had the same mindset of Christ) by choosing joy.
-> How will you respond to being overwhelmed by life?

Phil 4:5
2) Don’t react, trust Jesus
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near”
Some translations say “graciousness, you are considerate, etc.” It speaks to your attitude in how you respond to hardships and trials.
In hardships, don’t respond in anger. Don’t get all worked up and frustrated with everyone and everything (not an easy lesson).
In the case of someone (rather than something) being the issue, don’t pursue a
desire for revenge and retribution. Don’t be a vigilante. Instead, let your calmness
be known to all.
Why? Because Jesus sees you and is taking care of you. Because Jesus will at some point return to judge the world, and if He doesn’t bring about justice before, He will then. Our job isn’t to make justice happen. Ours is to put our lives in the hands of God and trust that He is fighting for us and that He will right wrongs.
Not a prescription to be a door mat and let yourself be trampled and taken advantage of – IMPORTANT CLARIFIER. There is a difference between standing up for what is right and being a vigilante.
-> Even though Paul was in the hands of those who wanted to harm him, even though there were those preaching the gospel with mal intent, even though the Emperor was tyrant who was against the church, even though there was conflict in the church, even though things were uncertain ahead, even though they may have been overwhelmed by everything around them, the church’s response was to be one of trust in God that He was fighting their battles and taking care of them. To the rest of the world, that would show a follower of Jesus living like a follower of Jesus.
-> How will you respond to being overwhelmed by life?

Phil 4:6
3) Let go and let God
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation…..”
When overwhelmed, fight the urge to become anxious about it.
Why? Because anxiety cripples (what are the physical, emotional and spiritual effects of anxiety on a person?)
What ever the situation (in every moment) pray and request of God.
Prayer is an act, but also an atmosphere. Have a balance of both.
With thanksgiving? But isn’t this a trial? How can I be thankful in the middle of something hard? If you are joyful in the Lord always, you can, even in trials, be thankful. You don’t need to be thankful that you are going through overwhelming situations. But you can be thankful to God for what He has done, what He is doing now (even if you don’t see it) and what He will do because He is faithful.
-> Even though it would have been easier to be anxious about all that they were facing (and we could likely make a strong case for it), instead they had to learn that they could and should trust God instead of spinning in anxiety. They needed to understand that if He held the whole of the universe in His hands, that He also held them. They didn’t need to have all the answers and solutions. Followers of Jesus living like a follower of Jesus means responding to anxiety with the willingness to let go and let God.
-> How will you respond to being overwhelmed by life?

Phil 4:7
4) Let His peace protect you
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard…..”
God’s peace is perfect, all encompassing for those who trust. (Isa 26:3)
The peace of God transcends (it defies, breaks through, goes beyond) understanding
His peace guards: army picture – keep external influences out.
Hearts – Seat of the emotions and soul, Minds – thoughts and intellect.
This ultimately comes through trust in Jesus Christ.
-> If the church wanted to be followers of Jesus, living like followers of Jesus, adopting His mindset, they needed to trust God enough to let the peace of Christ cover them. With the peace of Christ covering them and guarding their hearts and minds, they could truly act like Christ did when He was encountering accusations, trials, and dying on a criminal’s cross. As they faced their own persecution, Paul’s arrest and possible execution, and everything else, the only thing that would get them through was to have the peace of Christ. They needed to let His peace protect them.
-> How will you respond to being overwhelmed by life?
-> Right now, people are overwhelmed. Life has always had its fair share of things to be concerned about: Family troubles, financial worries, job losses, health concerns, problems at school, bullies, a loss of a pet, a conflict with a friend, a car breaking down, the house needing major repairs, need I go on? And that is before we even flip on the news to hear about nations fighting, political instability, crazy world leaders, scandals, violence, etc…
-> And then add all the unique tensions of COVID to the mix. We are still largely isolated, under tons of restrictions, we can not enjoy a lot of the same things we used to because they can’t open, a lot of family and friend get togethers don’t happen, going shopping is a lot more inconvenient, we cant physically meet with our health care providers, we don’t know if our kids will be back in school come September, we may not have a job to come back to, we may lose our house because of being backwards on payments, the stress has killed our marriage, we may walk out and catch COVID, family members who shouldn’t be out are and are now at huge risk, etc…
-> And the longer COVID goes, the more tense people are. At the start, there was anxiety. People were overwhelmed because this was so new. Then we all settled down and settled in. People calmed and made the best of it. Now we are all tired and grumpy with making the best of it. And it shows. People are overwhelmed. People are short and grumpy with each other. People are offended with each other. Conflict seems like it is always around the corner, and there are a lot more egg shells to be walked on. And people who normally don’t react and are quiet with their opinions suddenly have a whole lot more to say and don’t care how they say it.
-> We are all uncertain about the future, and rather than live in the tension and trust God, we are clambering to find answers, something concrete, something to give us a plan. Instead of praying to God, we are prying open the door of self sufficiency that leads to further hurt, confusion, and self destruction.
-> This is not the way God intends for His people to live, as followers of Jesus living like a follower of Jesus. Instead of spinning in anxiety and allowing our feelings of being overwhelmed to drive us, choose true joy in every situation. Don’t react, trust Jesus. Let go and let God, and let His peace protect you.
-> How will you respond to being overwhelmed by life?