grace without guilt … when you’re overwhelmed

How do you react when you’re overwhelmed?

What’s your natural inclination when you’re up against a tough relational problem, a difficult conversation you know you need to have (but have been putting off), or some kind of project or assignment you can’t quite get my head around?

Sometimes I panic.

Before I even know it, I’m way past the point of no return and plummeting over the brink.

Anxiety grips my chest. My sense of inadequacy in the face of the challenge leaves me feeling dizzy. And the implications of failure start churning my stomach.

More often though, I experience an extended period in which the signs that I’m feeling overwhelmed are more subtle than outright panic.

Often it’s procrastination that gives it away.

Left to myself, I’ve almost no way to arrest my slide towards panicked freefall.

Sure — I’ve got a few ad hoc and pragmatic strategies. But unless I have my wits about me and notice that I need to start employing them, I tend to just bury my head in the sand and procrastinate even harder.

But in his grace and mercy, God gives us two very good gifts that come in mighty handy when we’re feeling overwhelmed.

We get a glimpse of them both in Ephesians 4.1-16.

There, Paul shows us how God blesses us (i) in Jesus and — through Jesus — (ii) in each other.

I reckon I’m usually most inclined to feel overwhelmed when I’m relying on myself to secure what makes for a full and satisfying life.

But the good news that God is victorious in Jesus. And, as a result, we’re blessed in him.

In his grace, we’re caught up in his victory. Apart from any merit of our own, we share in his life.

What’s more, God doesn’t bless us in Jesus alone. He gives us to one another, making us interdependent and throwing us together in the project of building one another up towards maturity.

In pouring out his blessing on us like this, God enables us to meet our feeling of being overwhelmed by addressing its root cause — namely, our self-reliance.

And that is good news!

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