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February 29, 2008


Imagine you're Jesus on the ministry circuit, age 32. Where will you sleep tonight? What will you eat? Where along the way can you replace your threadbare tunic? What town should you and your crew hit next week, once you're ready to move on from your current locale? And beyond that, since you know your time is coming soon? What is the end going to look like? Will you make it to the cross? How will you make your point clear to your followers and be sure they get it?

We tend to assume that Jesus, as God, was immune from this line of thinking. But I don't think so. Since Jesus is fully human, he "has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." (Heb. 4:15) This means that Jesus must have felt overwhelmed sometimes by his life circumstances. He must have wrestled with the temptation to worry. He must have faced moments when he wondered if he could accomplish the work he had to do - in the big ways, and maybe also the small ones.

Feeling overwhelmed isn't a sin, but it is a case of distorted perspective. When we feel overwhelmed, we look into the future and believe that it contains more than we can handle. More demands, more decisions, more stress. As we look past today and live out tomorrow's challenges in our minds, we become fearful.

A favorite pastor of mine preaching recently on persevering grace touched on this phenomenon, admitting his own struggle to believe that God will be as present and faithful in tomorrow's challenges as those of today. He spoke of the Israelites' effort in Exodus 16 to store up manna beyond their allotted one-day's portion as a back-up plan, just in case God didn't come through with tomorrow's provision. But the stored-up manna went bad, and Moses rebuked these Israelites for their lack of faith. God gives us what we need for today; the provision goes that far and no further.

I sympathize with the disobedient Israelites. Today, even on a hard day, I can believe that I can get through if I stick close to God. Present-tense grace makes sense to me. But when I see what lies ahead of me next week, next month, next season - I'm not so sure. Will God really provide the grace I need when I get to those challenges too?

When Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself; each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matt. 6:34) - he was telling his followers not to allow themselves to get overwhelmed with the unknowns of the future. Jesus wasn't saying not to think about tomorrow - not to look ahead, for example, or not to plan. Rather he was saying: today lies before you. Live it well. Watch as God takes care of your needs and empowers you to address the challenges you face. Then let him do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day.

This must have been how Jesus handled the human emotion of feeling overwhelmed. Because while feeling overwhelmed isn't a sin, anxiety is a sin - so Jesus, the sinless one, successfully resisted the temptation to worry. He must have trained himself to constantly circle back to the circumstances of today and live those out well, while continually giving over thoughts and question about the intricacies of the future to God the Father.

This may be one of the toughest disciplines we face in the modern age. Our lives are full to the point of overflow, and it can feel like a constant juggling act to keep up. Daily we must resist two temptations: first, to take on more than God intends for us, and second, to take the reigns and the weight of tomorrow into our own hands.

Feeling overwhelmed is a beacon that signals the nearness of anxiety. As we begin to see this, we can consciously decide to run to God and unburden ourselves to him rather than sin by taking it on ourselves in the form of worry. And as we live in today and acknowledge his sovereignty in tomorrow, we can begin to feel God's freedom and peace replacing the sense of being overwhelmed.


Thank you for this!
It was a good reminder.

What a challenging and encouraging reminder for those of us that tend to be planners. Thank you, Susan.

I have definitely been spending too much time looking "past today and living out tomorrow’s challenges in our mind." Thanks for this reminder and challenge to release my fears.

So true. Excellent points Susan and well written. This is a great reminder when it is so easy to be consistently overwhelmed.

"Live out the circumstances of today well"--Even for those of us who are not inclined to worry, that is a powerful message. Thanks.

Thank you so much for these encouraging thoughts. I have just been reading an article about how fear and anxiety are sins; your thoughts are much more constructive.

What very present and timely words for me. I'm sitting here numb as I contemplate how we are going to buy groceries and pay utilities over the next weeks. Forget about paying other bills.

I walk around hurting most of the time. I had breast cancer five years ago and that experience was a picnic compared to the financial disaster zone that we live in now.

Yet, much of the time I feel a sense of inexplicable peace. I have learned to actually live one day at a time. And every day is a battle like something out of the Chronicles of Narnia. I only wish I could see my enemies. So I concentrate on an inner fight to stay faithful.

Luke 22:31-32 says that Jesus told Peter Satan has demanded permission (also "received permission by asking") that he be sifted like wheat. Jesus did not say, "And I told Satan no way!" He allowed the sifting and prayed that Peter's faith might not fail. I like the idea of Jesus praying for me.

Even then "If we are faithless, He remains faithful." 2 Timothy 2:13.

We can't lose. We can't deny Him. I don't think He will let our faith fail.

In my weakness, He is made strong. Thank you for reminding me that although the tough days will come, there can always be calm in the midst of the storm.

The temptation "to take on more than God intends" for me is a daily struggle. Thank you for the reminder that He is sufficient.

As a Single Mom who works full time outside of "Momhood", I frequently feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be done, not just tomorrow but today as well. Thank you for reminding me that God only gives us what we can handle and not to worry, He's there with us always.

"Daily we must resist two temptations: first, to take on more than God intends for us, and second, to take the reigns and the weight of tomorrow into our own hands."

So true. Thanks for the reminder

What a great and wonderful reminder of His grace, Faithfulness and unwavering love. Thanks for reminding me that all i need concern myself about is getting through today. Giving my best today, and Trusting Him for tomorowssssss

this was so encouraging. thank you:)

For a new mom who has been struggling with postpartum depression for a number of months, I feel that this is the missing piece on my road to recovery. I have been praying that God would make the depression go away, but I did not realize how much of my sadness was driven by being overwhelmed each day and taking on the burden of tomorrow's tasks and uncertainties. This has been such an eye-opener for me and I feel that I have so much more insight and understanding to help me get through this. Thank you so much for that.

I'm a 43 year old man never been married and I thought by now that I would have the wife, the kids, the dog and so on, but I don't. This at times lately has sadden me and over the past year I've had to relearn what God has done is doing and will do for me and what I can do for Him. I do know that their are others with much larger concerns than mine but their are moments that I have to remind myself of this.

At times I've seen others and wanted what they had or where they were in life. Thank you for reminding me TODAY that I need not fear, God is right here with me and that makes me a man that has all he needs everything else is just a cherry on top. It's so true that not to take of this world is hard but taking each task each day and no more is the way to go. Gods way. Thank you again for your love of others.

I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and I am employed fulltime otherwise. Recently I have been experiencing some problems at work and I felt as though everything was going wrong at the same time, I thank God for leading me to this site. The passage made me cry but in a good way, I feel better now. Thanks

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