When My Heart Is Overwhelmed….
A weary traveler doesn’t feel quite alone as she gazes upon heartfelt verses that reveal the emotions of a heavy heart. She undeniably gains an understanding of her High Priest “who sympathizes with her weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). With discernment, she knows He sees her lamenting heart full of worries and fears. And she understands, she can flee under His wings for protection at any moment, casting her overwhelmed heart before Him. Weeping and broken, she surrenders herself with all humility…Have you ever felt like this weary traveler? So overwhelmed, you wanted to cry, but just couldn’t? You wanted to let out all of your emotions, but outwardly it just didn’t flow, and inwardly, your feeble heart felt like a river of weeping tears? As a mother of a son with special needs, I have been that weary traveler. Many times while on my knees in prayer, weeping before my Heavenly Father, I felt alone. I was searching, waiting, and overwhelmed. Then the pages of the holy scriptures began ministering to me, revealing a safe place to unveil my deepest emotions . The indescribable comfort God’s sovereign Word provided during those sleepless nights of worry and complete brokenness kept me grounded. Through God’s Word, I discovered the frailties and weaknesses of King David as he penned his most sincere feelings, capturing glimpses into the core of his heart. I often wonder if this man after God’s own heart, while inspired by the Holy Spirit, thought for a mere moment, that the scriptures revealing human frailness, would provide comfort and strength to many generations after him. In this post, I share a few verses that have been monumental during this calling as a special needs mom. God has undoubtedly been my strong confidence, and His Word, during my loneliest moments of this journey, imparted grace and new mercies to an overwhelmed and feeble heart.
“Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer” (Psalm 61:1)
Don’t you love how David began this psalm? “Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer” (Psalm 61:1). Many sources state that David wrote this psalm when he fled from his son, Absalom and his comrades. Absalom completely rebelled and sneakily undermined his father, the Bible states that Absalom, “stole the hearts of the people of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:6) and “the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number” (vs. 12). When David received a message that the men of Israel sided with his son Absalom, David and all his servants fled Jerusalem. His son, deliberately took the kingdom from him. Can you even imagine how David felt? The Bible gives us a peek. It reads, “So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up.” (vs. 30). David wept and so did all of his people who were with him. As David’s son betrayed him in so many ways, we can see why he cried out to God. This was a very difficult time in his life.
“From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)
I wonder if David felt alone during this time. We know from Psalm 61:2, that he felt overwhelmed. With an overwhelmed heart, he desired to be lead to that place of refuge, the Mighty God. This serves as a wonderful example of a complete need of God when our hearts just can’t take any more. When we are bursting with anxiety, fear, hopelessness, and the unknown, it’s ok to fall helpless before Him. It’s ok to weep before Him. It’s ok to fall on our faces before Him. Who ever said that we can’t be weak? Here is a strong man, skilled in war, yet overwhelmed. He cried. He felt weary. He felt weakness. Jesus sympathizes with our weakness, “for we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews :15). I remember when my son was two. I held my tiny, newborn daughter, just a few days old in one arm and my excited son in the other. Filled with wonder, my son stared at his new sister, touched her face, and smelled her tiny hands. Nonverbal he was, I wondered what he thought as he watched his baby sister. I pondered what went through his mind when he held a picture book in front of her face with no words, quietly turning the pages. If he could talk, I wondered what he could say to me and her. I spent sleepless nights up with a my new baby, nursing and praying for my son, praying for wisdom, praying for a miracle. At this time, I had no idea why my son was nonverbal, and I had no clue when or if he would ever talk. I felt faint hearted. This was a very overwhelming time for me. Can you relate, maybe even through a different circumstance?
“Trust in Him at all times” Psalm 62:8
Confiding in God and running to Him in our circumstances in life, is simply saying to our Heavenly Father, “I. Trust. You.” David’s trust and confidence in God strongly revealed itself during his shocking victory over the mighty Goliath. “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45) We can have that same trust and confidence in God, just like David did when he just packed a staff and five smooth stones, bravely approaching that giant, fully armored Goliath from Gath. As I walked through the many doors of evaluations with my son, blood tests, hearing tests, the list can go on, (we are actually still going through different evaluations), I have learned to let go and give it to God. I have learned that the outcome is out of my hands. I have tried to carry the unknown of my son’s future, his future diagnosis (if any), on my own, it is honestly too much to bear. The moment I think of his future, and what the specialists might say about his diagnosis, I get completely overwhelmed, full of worry, then my heart becomes very anxious. I can only work on today, moment by moment. I have to trust God. Trust God that He created my son for His glory and that God created me to be his mommy. Trust God that He will provide my son’s every need. Trust God that He will give me the wisdom I need to walk out this high calling as a special needs mom. It has been through these difficult times, that my faith and trust in Him grows. He knows. He sees. He understands. Trust. It is a walk of faith.
The last half of Psalm 62:8 gives wise instruction for an overwhelmed heart, “pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.” I love the story of Hannah. I love how her story inspires many and gives so much hope. I most especially love Hannah’s example of a faithful, godly woman, who during an extremely difficult time in her life, trusted in God. While in grief, she “poured her heart out before God”, and allowed Him to be her refuge. Hannah’s story can be found in 1 Samuel 1 and 2. Here it is in nutshell; Hannah is one of the wives of Elkanah. Peninah, also called Hannah’s rival (1 Samuel 1:6), is Elkanah’s other wife. Hannah and Peninah are very different. Peninah had children and Hannah did not. When Elkanah went to worship and sacrifice to the Lord, he gave Peninah and her children portions of his offerings, but gave Hannah a double portion “for he loved her” (vs. 5). Peninah severely provoked Hannah “to make her miserable” (vs. 6) because she didn’t have any children. Can you even imagine? The one thing you want so badly and the other woman has it AND shoves it in your face to provoke you? Peninah’s shameful provoking did make Hannah miserable to the point that “she wept and did not eat” (vs. 7). Elkanah’s four questions to Hannah revealed that her sorrowful spirit did not go unnoticed. He asked her in verse 8, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”. Although Hannah’s husband could not ease her deep pains, Hannah knew of the One who could. After they ate, Hannah left and went to the House of the Lord. Filled with crushing grief, she visited her God. The Bible specifically states that “she was in bitterness of soul”(vs. 10) and she “wept in anguish”. Have you ever been there? Have you ever felt bitterness of soul and wept in anguish? With a sorrowful spirit, she prayed in her heart with no audible sound, only her lips moved. During this difficult time in her life, God was her confidence. After her vow, she didn’t know if God would bless her with a male child or not. She trusted, no matter the outcome. What I love most is that after she had spent time with God, “pouring out her soul before the Lord” (vs. 15), she felt better. The Bible states, “so the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad” (vs. 18). Have you ever been there? Maybe your situation is not the same as Hannah’s. Maybe your prayers are completely different, but you have experienced the same sorrow, grief, and bitterness of soul. But after you walked into your room, shut the door behind you, humbled yourself, and sprawled out before God, pouring your heart out, you felt His peace. His presence brought unexplainable comfort. I went through a time period where I felt unanswered prayers concerning my son with learning differences. I remember feeling that it was pointless to pray for this one specific area. I began to feel bitterness creep in, then I changed my prayer asking God that if He wasn’t going to change the situation, to help me to see the circumstances the way He desired me to. I asked God to help me trust Him, even though I couldn’t quite see or understand the seemingly unanswered prayers. Then God began to show me the good in that particular situation. He changed my heart. He changed me. Someone asked me if I ever pray for God to completely heal my son. Of course I do. I pray all the time. I don’t know God’s plans for my son, whether He will choose to heal or not. All I do know is what Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans of good and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” In His Word, I do trust. I also remember feeling very alone after receiving my son’s first diagnosis. I felt no one had the slightest clue of what I was going through, but God did. Many sleepless nights, I cried out to Him. He was always faithful to give me exactly what I needed. Out of the goodness of people’s hearts, I also received a lot of advice and opinions. This was also very overwhelming. I began to pray and ask God to help me filter all of this information. Thankfully He provided two solid professionals of whom I will never forget. They helped me navigate this new journey and walked by my side, and through countless hours of speech therapy and occupational therapy, they assisted my son in so many ways. I also prayed for friends who understood. God was so faithful and provided. Do you know what is so amazing? Our children do not share the same diagnoses, and yet we understand. We know the joys and sorrows. We are able to lift one another up in so many ways. I sure miss those monthly coffee dates.
"God is a refuge for us…." Psalm 62:8
During my first year of marriage, while living in the humid south, I had a hands-on experience with the word “refuge”. Every year, when the weather signaled “tornado season”, I kept a small bag packed with essentials next to the front door just in case I needed to quickly head for shelter. One night as the sirens wailed and the warm rain beat against my face, my husband and I hopped into our little white car, heading to shelter. Our clothes soaking wet, we quickly pulled out of our driveway. As the windshield wipers squeaked back and forth, I held my growing belly that carried my first born son and prayed we would make it safely to our safe place before the raging tornado decided to make its appearance. With both hands on the steering wheel, my husband dodged fallen branches and debris from the strong winds. At this point the rain had turned into droplets of hail, mimicking the sounds of a million ping pong balls ricocheting from the top of our vehicle. My husband and I looked at each other, second guessing whether we should have left our tiny two bedroom town house. After what seemed like eternity, we finally arrived at our safe place. Filled with relief, we swiftly pulled into the driveway, parked, and jumped out of the car at the same time. My husband served as my umbrella, covering me with his leather jacket, as we headed for the front door. The rain poured and the thunder boomed as we banged on my friends door to let us in. I couldn’t wait to get inside. I felt relief as my friend (and also at the time my teaching mentor), unlocked her door and opened up her earth sheltered home to us. My anxiety levels dropped tremendously as I walked into her calm and quiet living room. As I sat on her blue couch with a neatly placed white crocheted blanket, I thanked God for the sudden stillness in my heart as I watched the crackling lightning dance across the sky. While looking out of her floor to ceiling windows, I thanked God for this safe place while the heavy rain fell and the trees swayed from side to side. I thanked God for the warmth that resonated through her cozy home. And although the storm raged on all around me, I was safe. I thanked God for this shelter in the storm.
When the tempests rage with all fury, and when our hearts can’t quite take anymore, we can’t stop the storm, but we can flee to that safe, hiding place. It is a place of indescribable strength. It is a place of unexplainable comfort. It is a place of surpassing peace. It is our hiding place, a sweet refuge, where God awaits our arrival…..
Dear reader, God doesn’t ask us to walk this journey perfectly. He desires us to be teachable before Him. Humble. If your in a place where your heart is overwhelmed, no matter the circumstance, flee to Him, even if it seems undesirable because your pain is so great, or you feel the problem is too small. He is faithful and He will provide strength and peace to a weary heart. Trust.
Provided is a free downloadable Homeschool Lesson Planner with a few of my favorite verses that have been monumental during my journey as a special needs mom. I created this when I came home from one of my son’s evaluations. I was overwhelmed. I felt broken. I spent some time with the Lord and then made the planner. Although it is tailored to special needs, it can work for anyone. It includes one page per day up to four weeks. You can print as you need, and if you desire to use it longer than four weeks, you can keep reprinting the weeks. In it you will find a place to write your lessons and take notes all on one page (this is huge for me as a special needs homeschooling mom because I am scattered and I have notes everywhere, so it is nice to keep my notes in one spot). Also at the end of every week, there is a space for personal reflections and prayers concerning your child. May God richly bless you and I hope you enjoy!