Monday morning I had a bit of a melt down. I was trying to record an online teaching for a ministry with which I have taught before. They had just sent me a lapel mic that plugs into the USB port of my laptop in order to get better sound. I plugged it in, joined their website, and prepared to teach. However, the microphone would not unmute. And when I tried to simply use my laptop’s microphone, IT would not unmute either! So, we struggled.
To keep the program going, they substituted an already recorded teaching. And finally, I recorded something with them after we got the mic to work. But I was frazzled! Every day for me is filled with new learning as I continue to do more ministry online (like so many). “Oh, I feel like giving up!” was my mindset. Everything is something brand new that I have to learn! I’m exhausted!”
Well, poor me! Yes, this doesn’t sound like a very big problem, having to learn new things on a computer! But, I’m not going to diminish my feelings or response. I was worn out and in a state of mental confusion, So many people’s problems are so much greater than this, of course. But, what I am trying to share is that any one of us, for such a variety of reasons, can hit a moment where we say, “Today, I feel like giving up.” And if that’s you, this post is for you – seven faith-based ideas about how to turn that mood around, and feel ready to get back up and try again.
1. When You Feel Like Giving Up, Pray
We can look at so many biblical people and find that we are not alone in sometimes reaching our, “I can’t take it anymore moments.” David was hounded and pursued by Saul. Elijah fled from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel after a spiritual success as they wanted to kill him. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, after losing her husband and her sons, having gone through famine and living as a refugee, was bitter and exhausted.
Elijah, in his exhaustion said, “Lord, I’ve had enough. Just let me die! I’m no better off than my ancestors!” 1 Kings 19:4
Likewise, David wrote in Psalm 13:1:
“How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” David expressed his frustration and hopeless feelings in this way.
Though these biblical figures were saying, “I feel like giving up,” at least they were turning to God and giving their burden over to Him. This is our first stop when we feel we can’t take anything more or go another step. Tell God. “Cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
2. Rest When You Feel Like Giving Up
When I had my “technology overload,” I decided to stop for the day. I rarely do that. But, I felt so unusually frazzled, that I sat down on the couch, put my feet up and watched a movie. My husband, who went out on an errand, came back with my favorite candy. (And I don’t usually eat candy, because I want to eat healthy.) But on this particular day, it felt good just to stop and take it easy.
In the above passage, when Elijah was worn out from both ministry and the threats to his ministry, he went out into the wilderness and collapsed under the broom bush. That’s where he talked to God and said, “I’ve had enough.” He took a nap, but what happened next is interesting. An angel arrived, touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 1 Kings 19:5
The text continues with this: “Elijah looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.”
Sometimes when we feel overwhelmed, just resting, eating, drinking, and enjoying some lighthearted activity will help us begin to reset. God knows we need the rhythm of work and rest. And just like with Elijah, he ministers to us in these moments.
3. Remind Yourself Why You Started
When I was a little girl of seven, I wanted to be Snow White when I grew up. Don’t laugh! And no, I didn’t want to tangle with the Wicked Stepmother, but I was drawn to the sweetness of Snow White’s nature – her caring for the animals and the seven little men from the diamond mine! I wanted to love and be a source of love that would draw people to me for comfort.
As the years went by, that childlike view evolved into a strong desire to minister to people, to help them, encourage them, bring healing into their lives, and lead them to Christ. I became a pastor, answering God’s call.
Over the years, I served in several churches and then God gave me a new vision – first, to go out into the world to meet the needs of people in addiction recovery and their families. And then, of late, God gave me a powerful vision of using my voice in a new way. That new way has meant learning a whole host of new things – from podcasting to publishing to online ministry. The reach will be far greater, but the motive will be the same: love people in Jesus’ name. So I don’t want to quit. No way!
You may, if you’ve had some hard days, had very different reasons for your discouragement and thoughts of giving up, but go back to God and say, “Where are we going together, Lord?” Help me to get back up, like Elijah, too.
4. Use God’s Truth to Change Negative Thoughts
I deeply love and value the ministry of Steve and Wendy Backlund. The name of the ministry is Igniting Hope Ministries. And they see their whole mission as planting biblical hope in people’s hearts the way God did it for them. Steve describes a time when he saw himself as a “loser,” – aging, failing in ministry, wanting to quit, etc. He remembers having a moment when he heard God say, “Who told you that?” (As God questioned Adam when Adam said that he knew he was naked after eating from the tree).
What followed this God question, was Steve and Wendy hearing God say, “I give you permission to be hopeless about anything I am hopeless about.” Steve and Wendy then realized that they never have once heard God say, “Yes, I am hopeless about that. There are no solutions.”
On their website, they have 15 favorite hope quotes from Steve. I am sharing some here as click to tweets. It is so good to become relentlessly hopeful. We can do that by challenging each of our negative, pessimistic, overwhelmed thoughts with scripture.
5. Listen for Holy Spirit’s Creative Strategies
If we just keep imagining and listening, new possibilities will arise for how to tackle our problems. Where and when do you get your best ideas?
I find my creativity from the Holy Spirit flows best at three moments.
Waking and/or just before, in a dream state
Out prayer walking with worship music on.
Taking a shower
At these three moments in a day, ideas will begin to flood into my mind and if I am wise, I will run and write them down immediately. God wants to give us Plan A, Plan B, Plan C…up to Plan Z until we find a way to get around the obstacles in our path.
It is very true, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) God can make a way where there seems to be no way – a practical way. Remember that the Holy Spirit came upon the artists and craftsmen who created the Tabernacle and the Temple (Exodus 31:1-6) God is a God of the spiritual, and the practical, and the creative. He can help us with all things so ask Him to give you new approaches to your situation.
6. Practice Gratitude When You Want to Quit
One thing that helps me so much when I feel a little overwhelmed by anything, and have that thought, “It’s too much. I can’t keep going,” is to remember from where I have come. It’s good to take a look at how much has been accomplished and give God thanks for it.
I am reading my friend, Ana Werner’s book, The Warrior’s Dance. In it, she describes a time when she felt overwhelmed. She was busy in ministry, directing a healing room, writing a book, and had two young children. With all this going on, she started to feel that if there was one more thing added, she would explode.
Ana began to cry out to God, telling Him, “I’m overwhelmed.” But she felt God responding, saying, “It’s only as overwhelming as you make it.” (p. 121)
Ana realized, in that moment, that she was agreeing with the idea of her life being too much for her. Instead, she began to thank Jesus for all her “beautiful blessings.” She puts it this way, “By repenting from even agreeing with being overwhelmed and changing my attitude to one of gratitude, that feeling of being overwhelmed completely broke off of me!” (p. 121)
7. Find a Way to Get Excited Again
Well, with prayer, rest, gratitude, silencing negative thoughts, remembering how much I love ministry, and so on, I am up and raring to go again. I have almost hit a goal that I have for an area of ministry in order to move to the next level. I am excited again. Feelings come and go, but the love of God is forever. When we’re down and weary, our God comes to refresh us just as surely as He did it for Elijah, David, Naomi, Moses, and others.
Fan the flame, light the spark with God’s help, remember why you do what you do, and who you are in Him and to Him, and get back up!
What to do on the Days You are Overwhelmed
The Hard Times Make You Stronger
How Gratitude Can Make You Stronger
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When I try to operate under my own power in ministry, it’s easy for me to get discouraged and distracted by obstacles. I have felt just the way you described. This is a great list to help us refocus on God and the purpose He has in our lives. Thanks so much for this post.
Thanks for “stopping by,” Joshua. Yes, I felt a little embarrassed about admitting my level of frustration! But, I think it may be helpful to people to be real. We all go through this for one reason or another. But, as you said, if we look to God as our power source, everything goes better!
Pam, these seven thoughts for dealing with overwhelm are spot-on. 2020 has caused me to better understand the value of self-care and giving myself permission to take a break sometimes. That can refresh me greatly. And I’m a big proponent of praying and seeking God’s help when everything seems to go wrong. When I was building my website this summer, there were some big things that stymied me. God brought people and resources to help me figure things out. I’m so glad He’s always, always with us!
I so agree, Jeanne. Giving ourselves permission to self-care is so important. Rest is so important. God then restores and helps us to reset perspective. So glad you got your website built with God’s provision!
Yep! Feeling it.
I can get so caught up in all the things I need to do and easily work for 14 hours without stopping, and then I wonder why I feel overwhelmed. I like what you said about resting instead of quitting. Sometimes we start to think that it has to be either-or. Either we continue to power through even if it kills us, or we quit. I’m glad you’ve highlighted a 3rd option. REST.
You are so right, Lily. It is the third option. I often hear the lie that if I put my feet up and take a day off, I will be left behind in a cloud of dust. Not true! The rest gives us the chance to hear God, regain perspective and strength. There’s a reason God gave us the concept of Sabbath. Bless you much!
Such great points. I especially like 1 and 7. And certainly needed at this time when situations can overwhelm us and make us forget to pray. Thanks for a timely post!
Thank you, Ava. You are so right. We can let situations overwhelm us instead of taking our troubles to God and being real with Him. He is so faithful to lift us back up and show us the way to go – creative and godly solutions. Blessings!
I needed to see this today! Will print it out and keep with my devotional readings.
Oh, Linda, thank you. I am glad it was of help. That’s my heart – to encourage.
This is great advice for those times when you feel like giving up! I know I have been there before. I really enjoyed this post and will be applying it to my life!
Thank you, Meghan. This growing field of digital discipleship is a steep learning curve for me. I have to pray, hang on, and keep trying to keep up with new things. But God is so marvelous to restore!
Prayer, it has always helped me when I feel overwhelmed or frustrated. At times I forget to pray though.
I also practice rest, it works like magic.
Thanks for sharing
You are so right. Pray and rest. Timeless first choices for feeling better and moving forward again. Thanks for stopping by!
Such an encouraging and practical post! Thanks for directing us to the grace and truth found in God’s Word. Every time I find myself discouraged, I know it is because I have chosen lies over truth, so taking the time to slow down and realign my perspective is so important.
When I was younger, Carla, I could really be stumped by those “moods.” Now, I immediately begin to seek God for the truth to take down the lies and get me back up on my feet, fighting, again. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Godly insight here, Pam! It’s easy for me with my chronic illnesses and my over-60 age to become overwhelmed with what God has on my plate. I pause to assess. Is this my idea or the Lord’s? And then, like you stated, if it’s the Lord’s, it’s a beautiful blessing, not something to overwhelm me, but to cause me to rely on him. Praise, trusting the Lord, taking a nap, going for a walk, asking Jesus for insight, asking my spouse for help — all of these that you detailed here remind me that I CAN do this next thing the Lord has given me when I rely on his Holy Spirit and all the support the Lord himself has provided. Thank you, sister!
I totally understand the burden of chronic illness adding significantly to moments of feeling overwhelmed. How hard that is! But, you are so right that the Lord can help us and change our minds about what we can handle or not. His strength carries us.
This is so good. There are so many moments in life when we feel like giving up but in those moments we can practice the things you shared so that we can find the strength to keep going. I especially loved what you shared from that pastor about how God told him that he could feel hopeless about the things God felt hopeless about. Which is nothing! Such an encouraging thought!
I know! Isn’t that a great statement. “You can only be hopeless about what God is hopeless about.” And God has no hopelessness about anything.
Pam, this is a fantastic post. We all struggle with feelings of giving up. I can relate to the computer problems! I pinned this to read again. Thanks!
Mary, that’s so kind of you. I’m glad computer problems are relatable!! Everything seems new at times as I navigate online ministry. Bless you.
When I feel like giving up – and that often happens because of technology problems – I also have to step away. Two of the things you listed here really help me too – 1) Practicing gratitude, which when I grew up was Count Your Blessings, and 2) Find a way to get excited again. Like you, those thoughts typically come to me in the shower and on walks
When I was reading about your technology woes, I was thinking that too often we feel bad about the little things that can upset our daily rhythm – But that’s actually very normal!
Your tips remind us of that and also remind us that we need to have a way to deal with those moments.
Oh Teresa, you are so right – sometimes we’re over upset about little things and those are part of life. Such wise words! I will remember them better next time!!
Thank you so much for writing about not giving up! I had to laugh- today I feel exactly like this-giving up! I decided to turn off the desktop computer and sit on the couch and read. I find your post that encourages me to do this very thing! I do find that when I go on a prayer walk that God fills me with creative ideas. Your post has refreshed and encouraged me!?
Karen, I am so glad the post encouraged you. That is such a blessing to hear. And I am so glad you are refreshed and ready to go again!
God is an ever-present help in trouble. When I am overwhelmed, I am so grateful that He ALWAYS comes through. Praise Him.
He is our ever present help. I am so glad I am never alone. Thank you, Evangeline
Love that reminder to listen to the Holy Spirit’s creative strategies!! So good and something I am going to starting implementing. Thanks!
Thank you, Kari. Yes, I am amazed with all the Holy Spirit suggests if I just listen and stop being the busy bee!!
I think it’s human nature to want to give up but here’s one thing God told me during one of those moments, He said, “you are how you are yourself”. In other words if I say I can’t go on them I won’t be able to go on and if I say I can, then so be it.
Betty, so great. Yes, our words have life and death in them. We have to speak life and encourage ourselves.
Hi, Pam! I love this so much! Thank you so much for writing this! We all feel weary sometimes and feel like giving up! All thanks to our God who is always to the rescue! Everything gets easier by then… Thank you for being a blessing! God bless you always!
Sheryl, thank you so much! You are a blessing too. I am so grateful for your reading and commenting. God keeps us all going!