Overwhelmed by the World

As I was walking through Barnes N’ Noble I came across this book called The Super-Heroes Devotional by Ed Strauss, Issue #1. I totally geeked out as I read the catch line on the back cover “Can you ACTUALLY find SPIRITUAL TRUTHS in comic books and superhero movies?”, “Yes, you can!” it read. I bought the book and have been reading it over time, I recommend it by the way. I saw a few chapters on the character Iron Man and wanted to share to Creating Heroes what it said. The chapter was called “Overwhelmed by the World”, this is it word for word:

In his Iron Man outfit, Tony Stark is a force to be reckoned with, but under the titanium alloy armor, he is very human – and unrelenting fear and stress deeply affect flesh-and-blood humans. Plus, living through cataclysms can shake anyone, and Tony Stark is no exception.

In the climax of the movie The Avengers, SHIELD concludes that it can’t stop the Chitauri invasion, so it launches a nuclear missile at Manhattan, opting to sacrifice the city and the Avengers to save the Earth. But Iron Man seizes the missile and guides it through the wormhole toward the Chitauri fleet above. The missile donates in a tremendous exposure, wiping out the alien’s mothership and paralyzing the Chitauri destroyers and robots on Earth below.

As if the stress from this desperate act isn’t enough, Stark’s suit then runs out of power causing him to plummet to Earth. He falls back through the wormhole just before it closes. At the last instant, the Hulk leaps up and catches him.

The movie Iron Man 3 follows this near-death experience and gives an accurate portrayal of a person suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and panic attacks. In the trailer to the movie he says, “I’m Tony Stark. I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world. So why can’t I sleep?”. For several months, he compulsively creates several dozen duplicates from his updated Iron Man suit in an effort to shut out the fear.

And Tony Stark isn’t the only one who suffers after these events; Dr. Eric Selvig is also briefly institutionalized due to the mental trauma he suffered under Loki’s attack on earth.

Many people suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. We often hear about members of the armed forces suffering from PTSD, it is also common among police officers, ambulance drivers, and those who have been through life threatening situations, abuse, or severe psychological manipulation. Even ordinary stress, if prolonged, can wreak havoc with the person’s mental and emotional health, and millions of Americans endure stress due to financial pressure, family situations, or other unresolved crises.

The apostle Paul knew what it was like. He wrote of his hardships in Ephesus, in the Roman province of Asia, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8). That’s when the stress was still manageable. But later things got out of hand, causing him to admit, “We do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8).

What’s the solution for this kind of stress? David declared, “From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed” (Psalms 61:2). God will hear and answer you, but you will still be required to withstand the pressures and fight.

One time, David and his men went off to war and left their wives and children in Ziglag. In their absence, Amalekite raiders attacked. When David’s men returned to the town, ” there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they have no more power to weep” (1 Samuel 30:3-4). But instead of allowing himself to be overwhelmed, ” David strengthened himself in the Lord his God (vs. 6).

David asked God, ” Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” and the Lord answered, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all” (vs. 8). So David and his men tracked the raiders. When they arrived at the Amalekite camp, David’s men fought fiercely and routed the Amalekites and, “nothing of theirs was lacking…David recovered all” (vs. 19). What an answer to prayer!

Sometimes you’ll suffer disaster and feel overwhelmed. Perhaps you have sinned and failed God, and now the devil is trying to convince you that God is obliged to punish you – so you just call it quits and not bother praying. Instead, do like David did: “David strengthen himself in the Lord, ” reminding himself that God loved him and could do the impossible in desperate situations. Once he was assured of that, David was encouraged to pray.

Refuse to give up. Turn to God in prayer. You may feel like the situation is hopeless, but during similarly dark times, Nehemiah admonished his people, ” Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses” (Nehemiah 4:14).

But know this: it may not be a quick, easy battle, so you’ll first of all need to ” strengthen yourself in the LORD”. You do this by reading His Word and praying passionately. King Asa prayed, “Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You”. (2 Chronicles 14:11). God will come through for you.

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