Overwhelmed: The New Normal

0511-1009-1319-0462_Black_and_White_Cartoon_of_a_Stressed_Out_Guy_with_the_Word_Overload_clipart_image_1Recently, a 2013 Work Stress Survery revealed that 83% of Americans feel stressed at work. Throw in the annual performance reviews, exams for those still in academia, the economic pressures relating to employment and the state of the stock market, sprinkle them with health issues, mix them all with family pressure, and we find a common thread in many lives right now: the stress of being overwhelmed. In my ministry over the last few weeks and months, I’m hearing this more and more: from the young kids in grade school to the elderly I visit at home, it seems that many people are stressed and overwhelmed.

Tonight, we will take a look at the levels of our stress, both personal and social, and see what discoveries we can find of value.

As we look around the world, one of the interesting developments is that we have never had more “creature comforts” here in the US and in the West in general. Life really has never been more “comfortable” in all of history than it is currently, but at the same time, we discover high levels of stress and a gnawing sense of dis-satisfaction.

I’ve heard it said that much of the dissatisfaction comes from a subconscious belief that “we can have it all.” In other words, I can have the nice house, the perfect family, the super high paying job, the deepest and most perfect faith, along with a beautiful yard, the latest and greatest gizmos and gadgets, and the…well, you know the rest.

The fifth chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes says:
Whoever loves money never has money enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
This too is meaningless….
The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much,
but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. (Eccles 5:10,12)

In the midst of all this, we find a faith that says something important:

Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred (Prov 15:16-17).

Make simple my heart, O Lord. (Psalm 86:11)

Discussion Questions

Do you feel stressed and battle the feeling of being overwhelmed? If so, what do you find yourself being overwhelmed about?

Do you think that our society is stressed or overwhelmed? Where might we see examples or manifestations of this? Are there any recent events in our local area, our country, or our world that might reveal a very high level of stress?

What are some of currents in our culture that might contribute to a growing sense of stress or being overwhelmed? What goals might society have taught us that can lead to this feeling of being burdened or stressed?

Is it possible to “have it all?” If yes, how is it possible? If no, how should we live?

What does our faith say about these goals and ambitions?

Can you think of any saints whose lives model something in this area? Who in our current world might be a good example?

What are practices we can do to reduce the burden of stress and being overwhelmed? What role does prayer play in all of this?

What can we do as young men and women of faith to reach out to those whom we know are overwhelmed and stressed? What can we do to help?

From Luke 21: When he looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury, and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (Luke 21:1-4)

What is Jesus teaching us?
What does the poor widow teach us?