The Right Amount of Whelmed?

A few weeks ago, I followed a Twitter account written by Alice Mills, a woman from Eagle River, Alaska with a keen sense of punny thoughts. Like, “I thought about being an attorney, but I’m prone to motion sickness.” Or, take this one with an Alaskan flavor: “I just switched from eating venison to eating pheasant. Absolute game changer.” I laugh out loud. Alice also serves up a good deal of thoughtful serious content (un-pun related), and today she stopped me with “Why is no one ever the right amount of whelmed?”

It’s been one of the days. . .or months, rather, where the whelms do seem to be stacking up. I’m still working from home (alone–very alone) after two weeks out of the Children’s Hunger Fund offices due to the Saddleridge Fire‘s smoke damage. Our Dallas office is managing disaster response in the face of a tornado. In two weeks time, I’m teaching 10 times for various churches, not including evening classes or videoing lectures for an on-line class. Hospitality, church activities, more fires in town, anyone?

Why is no one ever the right amount of whelmed?

Driving toward Mordor. . .

Ringing in my ears this week was Psalm 105, an exploration of God’s faithfulness throughout the history of His people. Check out these words inscribed by the Psalmist about Joseph:

When He (God) summoned a famine on the land (of Egypt)

    and broke all supply[a] of bread,

17 He had sent a man ahead of them,

    Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

18 His feet were hurt with fetters;

    his neck was put in a collar of iron;

19 until what he had said came to pass,

    the word of the Lord tested him.

Joseph was more than whelmed, I would guess, through the days of being thrown in a pit, sold to traders, resold into household servitude in a pagan land. False accusation of rape and the unjust imprisonment? Whelmed? Overwhelmed? And how have I missed those details about the shackles and iron collar?

But look at those words: Godsent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.” There was Divine purpose in Joseph’s trafficking, purpose that shielded Joseph’s family from famine, that elevated Joseph to royalty (v. 22), that made the name of the Lord known in Egypt (v. 38), that preserved God’s promise to Abraham (v. 42), so that His people might seek the Lord and His strength (v. 4) to remember the wondrous works He has done. (v. 5)

I don’t know what next week holds (other than more teaching and probably more smoke), but I am assured that I shall not be overwhelmed. I do not have to fear that my life is full of random existential meaninglessness. I can trust that my God is purposeful, holy, and honorable. And on top of that, He gives to His children of His great strength through His constant presence.

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;

    make known his deeds among the peoples!

Sing to him, sing praises to him;

    tell of all his wondrous works!

Glory in his holy name;

    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

Seek the Lord and his strength;

    seek his presence continually!

Remember the wondrous works that he has done,

    his miracles, and the judgments He uttered,

Psalm 105.1-5

Emmanuel. Our God is with us.

Thanks, Alice, for reminding me! He keeps us at just the right amount of whelm.

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