When Life Is a Lot to Handle

In the Twenty-First Century, flying should be easy: just board the giant jet that lifts you to the skies and soars like a falcon to your happy destination. But it’s not. At times, it requires the multitasking skills of a circus performer.

Take, for example, going through security. Shoes off, laptop out, luggage lifted, children herded, conveyor belt stopped, suitcase searched, underwear out (why didn’t I pack that on the bottom?), license dropped, people pushing, employee yelling—I get the sweats just thinking about it. And let’s not even talk about boarding the plane with carry-on, coffee, purse, and—heaven help us—babies.

Whoever we are, sometimes life can feel like an international airport, as if we need an extra arm or extra brain to get anything done. Besides tasks to accomplish, we have emotions to manage, choices to make, and relationships to tend—often all at the same time. Even the starkest minimalist can’t escape some of the complexities of life. If you’re still unconvinced, here are a few more everyday zingers: Balancing the budget. Parking in the city. Working through conflicts. Navigating healthcare. Planning dinner menus for the month. I rest my case.

Some of the most frequent comments I hear from women are “I’m overwhelmed” or “I’m exhausted.” Spiritual conversations share a similar tone: “My relationship with God is hard to fit in.” “It’s not super meaningful.” “I’m stretched thin.”

Thin. It’s the word Bilbo the hobbit uses in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to describe himself after carrying the burden of the ring for too long. “Sort of stretched. Like butter scraped over too much bread.” I’ve felt it. Have you?

Life can be a lot to handle, and some of that is our own doing. If we idolize productivity, saying yes to every extracurricular activity, fitness program, and business opportunity that comes our way, we may need to evaluate our priorities. But part of the fullness of life is also God’s doing. He has placed us in a world dripping with stunning detail. Featured in the garden of Eden was a tree of life, not a rock or cube of life. A tree is a complex work of art. It moves. It grows. Its systems are so advanced that we can barely understand them, involving sunlight and water and minerals and magic. Its seeds house resurrection power. Both above and below the ground, trees are complicated, like the lives our Creator has entrusted to us—lives that reach and grow and move and bear fruit. A life meaningfully engaged with pursuing Jesus and loving others is rarely simple or tidy, but it certainly can be beautiful.

How do we, as limited human beings, live complex lives of wide responsibility without letting our souls grow thin? Today’s reading in Psalm 36 tells us. We come to the deep one, whose love “extends to the heavens,” and “faithfulness to the clouds,” whose “righteousness is like the mountains of God,” and “judgments are like the great deep.” We come to the one who is everything we aren’t, not only taking refuge in him but happily feasting on all his abundance and drinking from his river of delights (Psalm 36:5-9). If that sounds like a party, it is. He welcomes us to come to him for refreshment, abundance, and delight.

A song I sang in the kindergarten class of my childhood church sums it up: “Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.” It’s the fountain of life from Psalm 36, wide enough to cover all our needs, responsibilities, inadequacies, and sins, and deep enough to never run dry. Best of all, the fountain is found “with you,” with God himself, and he beckons us to wade in.

The Christian life is not lived watching from the edges, being careful not to get wet. God invites us into a vibrant, interactive, personal relationship full of life and honesty and conversation. He knows who and how we are, loving us and calling us to love him in return. In fact, let’s take a step into the fountain right now by asking God to show us more of himself through this study and to change us from the inside out.

Life does at times feel overwhelming, but when we step, then wade, then run into God’s fountain of life, we find ourselves refreshed, splashing around in nothing less than the sheer delight of knowing him. What are we waiting for?

Excerpted from You Are Welcomed: Devotions for When Life Is a Lot © 2023 by Tricia Donohue. Used with permission of New Growth Press. May not be reproduced without prior written permission.

You Are Welcomed book cover

You Are Welcomed

When you feel overwhelmed by life’s demands, trials, and emotions, you are not alone. God welcomes you into his rest and peace. In this ten-week devotional, author and women’s ministry leader Trish Donohue helps women who are weary turn to the Lord, put down their burdens, rest in his welcome, and then welcome others to walk with Jesus too.

About the author

Trish Donohue

Trish Donohue serves as Director of Women’s Ministry at Covenant Fellowship Church and is the author of Between Us Girls: Walks and Talks for Moms and Daughters and You Are Welcomed: Devotions for When Life Is a Lot. She is a pastor’s wife and mom of four who lives with her family in West Chester, PA.

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