Overwhelmed by Little Things

  • Pete Johnson
illustration of a fallen giant

In 1726, Jonathan Swift wrote a four-part satirical book titled Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, it was later changed to the more familiar title, Gulliver’s Travels.

The book describes the four adventures of Lemuel Gulliver, a surgeon and sea captain. In his first adventure, Gulliver is the lone survivor of a shipwreck.  He manages to swim safely to shore and exhausted he falls fast asleep. When he awakes, he suddenly and unexpectedly finds that he is unable to move and realizes that he has been overwhelmed, tied down, by thousands of small strings. This was done of course by hundreds of the land’s inhabitants, who are less than six inches tall! Gulliver finds himself overwhelmed by this onslaught of little things.

Life is like that sometimes. Maybe more than we wish it to be. There have been stages in my life where I have found myself overwhelmed and most of those times it seems to happen suddenly. When we think about being overwhelmed, we most commonly refer to the feeling of being overcome with emotion that results from an amount of something (work, stress, etc.) that’s just too much to handle.      

As I look back on those times, it usually has not been one major event or a single cause that has overwhelmed me or is overwhelming me, it is little things. Those little things that come at me all at once, surround me and tie me down. Unable to think clearly, I then allow stress and emotion to rule me.

Taking on the littles things when they arrive one at a time is not really a problem. The overwhelming factor hits when the little things come all at once.

An internet problem, coupled with the car is making a weird noise problem, add to that a plumbing problem, my teenager is not listening to me problem, a cat problem, a dog problem, a husband problem, someone else’s problem, the baby has a dirty diaper problem- Egad!!!!

So how do we deal with the overwhelming stages of life? We can’t just lie down and do nothing. But at times it feels like we are paralyzed, especially mentally.

First, we need to remember the big thing: that God cares about us, as well as the little things in our lives.

“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Secondly, stop, and ask God to help you deal with each of those little things, one by one.

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Then you will have the peace and clarity of mind to prioritize which of those little things to take care of first.