10 psalms to read when you’re overwhelmed
(because I know I’m not the only one)
I’m going through a period of feeling completely overwhelmed.
And I did it to myself. I don’t want sympathy, don’t expect sympathy, and don’t want anyone to tell me that things will get better or that I should slow down.
Enough already. I know I have achievement issues. I am, after all, the one who’s incredibly tired and cranky. And having heart palpitations.
I just keep sitting here, feeling the fog rolling in over my life, suffocating me.
Maybe you understand this because you’ve been overwhelmed. (If you haven’t been, go away. You don’t need this blog.) For the rest of us, sometimes we just want to slow the world down so we can get off the ride and catch our breath. We want to push back the curtain of fog and see the sun again.
There are a lot of reasons for this kind of stress. A lot of therapists. A lot of medications. A lot of coping mechanisms, like coffee, deep breathing, shopping, yoga, alcohol, or any host of addictive behaviors. You could try to completely re-org your schedule and become a different person. But that doesn’t usually last.
I’m going to offer you the best help I know of. If I would stay immersed in these little promises, I would be underwhelmed by the world and overwhelmed by a grander presence.
Here are 10 little readings to re-orient your brain and heart. These 10 psalms–songs, actually, but you can call them meditations if you want–can take your mind off what you should do and remind you who you should be.
Psalm 5—When you feel persecuted. When you’re doing the right thing, you will attract unwanted aggression from the wrong people. That’s okay. Keep moving straight ahead. Bullies don’t have the stamina to keep up.
“Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies—make straight your way before me.”
Psalm 6—When you’re depressed. Being alone is the worst thing you can do. Find a counselor and talk about how you feel, no matter how embarrassed you are. It’s okay (they like people with problems). Your emotional and physical health depend on being honest and finding someone to guide you through the tunnel you’re in.
“Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony.”
Psalm 16—When you’re confused. Your world is different than you think it is, and your problems are different than you think they are. Find a professional to help you change your perspective.
“I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”Psalm 16:7
Psalm 17—When you feel alone. Keep a small group of friends or family as your safe place. Tell them how you feel and what you’re struggling with. When trouble comes, go to them; don’t suffer alone because loneliness distorts reality.
“I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in your from their foes.”Psalm 17:6
Psalm 22—When you feel forgotten. Even when we know people love us, it’s easy to feel left out and unimportant. Ultimately, we must be secure in God’s love. Our own self-esteem and the love of others aren’t strong enough to balance our insecurities and fears.
“For he hs not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”Psalm 22:24
Psalm 27—When you feel afraid. Everyone in the world prays when they are most afraid, even if they claim to be atheists. Fear is the opposite of love. And we all long for a relationship with a loving God.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”Psalm 27:1
Psalm 37—When you feel worthless. We all want our lives to matter. We want to make the world a better place. Put your talents and goals into God’s hands–he’s the one who created them anyway–and see what he can do with your life.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”Psalm 37:5-6
Psalm 42—When life seems hopeless. When we look at the world or at the people around it, we can feel discouraged. People will fail you. God will not (even when it seems like He does.)
“Why are you down cast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”Psalm 42:1
Psalm 51—When you feel guilty. Hanging on to bitterness, resentment, and shame will eat you alive. Tell God and anyone you’re hurt what you’ve done wrong and ask for their forgiveness. And give forgiveness liberally to other people, even if they don’t ask for it. Being forgiving frees you.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love: according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions.”Psalm 51:1
Psalm 94—When you feel anxious. Worry never solved anything or kept anything from happening. It just eats you alive from the inside. Let go of worry by being proactive and positive. And most of all, put your trust in something that never changes, like God.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”Psalm 94:19
I hope that helps. It helps me. My heart rate is down, and I’m getting off the couch to search for some chocolate. (Another coping mechanism that works surprisingly well.)
I wish your heart and mind a fog-less, sunny day. And since you can’t control the world, I wish you the ability to see the sun, even when it’s not shining.
based off an article in Crosswalk, published August 26, 2016.