by Ann Swindell
Let’s face it: life often feels overwhelming—especially in the responsibilities we carry as leaders. Bad news shocks us, financial struggles surprise us, and relational issues wear us down. Whether we are in the corporate world, ministry, home, or some combination of these roles, it’s easy to allow changing circumstances and our shifting emotions to wreak havoc on our days.
The good news is that the Lord is near to all who call on him in truth (Psalm 145:18), and he desires to meet our overwhelm with his peace. No matter what situation, conversation, or emotion you’re facing right now, Christ’s peace is available to you—and the precious people you’re leading.
Here are three verses to help us walk in peace when we feel overwhelmed:
Jesus understood that his followers would be “troubled” and “afraid” at times—and that Christians throughout every generation would feel worried about what they face. But it is into our fear that Christ offers us his gift of peace. And his peace is not something that’s fabricated by our own wavering emotions. Rather, it is a reality given to us through the precious Holy Spirit. Because of the Holy Spirit’s presence within us, we are never alone—and therefore, we can walk in his unshakeable peace.
One gift of learning to walk in Christ’s peace is that his peace will be felt in the lives of those we lead, as well. That’s because, as we learn to better face uncertain circumstances with confidence in God’s Word and his presence within us, we point those around us to “the peace that surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:6) by how we live—something that can only be found in Jesus.
So often, our feelings of being overwhelmed come from the constant change we face. In our day-to-day lives, we face changing health diagnoses, changing relational dynamics, and changing job situations—just to name a few! Additionally, the world we live in is changing, often in ways that are difficult and frightening. But Christ offers us his peace in the midst of turmoil, because when everything else shifts, he remains the same. His goodness, his love, his offer of salvation—these things will never change. We can rely on his loyalty and consistency today—and that can give our hearts peace.
As others in our spheres of influence feel the ground underneath them shaking, we can show them a different—and hopeful—path. No matter what the future holds, our footing is sure because of the consistency of God and his unchanging character (James 1:17). And that peace we experience as those who know the surety of Jesus? It’s a beautiful signpost to others of the truth of the Gospel and the opportunity that they have to know Jesus as well.
When the waves of overwhelming emotions threaten to exhaust us, we can always turn to God. As Psalm 62 declares, he is our source of true rest, and in him we cannot “be shaken.” The storm may rage around us, and the waves may be bigger than we can imagine, but the Lord is our fortress. He is our safe place! But how do we take him as our “fortress” when we are overwhelmed? We turn to him in prayer and worship, and we choose to look to his word rather than our own fears. We surround ourselves with Christian community, and we choose to follow him rather than the ways of the world. As we do these things, we will find rest and hope rather than overwhelm and fear.
And when those we love and care for are going through storms? We can listen with compassion, offer to pray with and for them, invite them to church,and ask them if they’d like to read the Bible with us. These simple practices are profoundly transformative when the troubles of life surround us and the lives of those we love.
No matter what you are facing today, the Lord longs to fill you with his peace. Turn to his Word and rely on his promises—and trust that he loves you, and he has good in store for you (Romans 8:28). You are not alone.
Ann Swindell is the author of the new book The Path to Peace: Experiencing God’s Comfort When You’re Overwhelmed (Bethany House). Ann is a member of Wellspring Community Church in Hudsonville, Michigan, where her husband is a pastor, and she teaches Christ-centered writing courses at Writing with Grace. You can connect with her online at AnnSwindell.com.