Tuesday Jun 09, 2020

Breaking it down before you breakdown: David and Goliath

Stress can add up to be too much, and we can have a mental health breakdown, but when we break it down like in the story of David and Goliath, we can find a way through the chaos.

Stressful times can feel like a massive avalanche of overwhelming pressure. The keyword in that sentence is ‘feel.’  You have a feeling of living in the overwhelming shadow of something that could crush you.

It was like an overflowing river of complaints.

It took her an hour to express all her problems and pains to me. She had not been listened to for some time, and all the fear, anger, sadness, frustration, and plain tiredness had to be released. I think she thought I had some sort of magic prayer wand that could be waved and all the problems would disappear.

Instead, I suggested that we, together, break it down before she had a breakdown. Then I told her a Bible story.

It’s the story of David and Goliath. You can read the story in full here, but it’s the story of a little guy taking on a bully, and when we look further into the story, we can glean some ideas of how to handle our stress.

David and Goliath


When looking at stressful situations, there are a lot of ‘and’s.’ This problem and that problem and then this situation and then that issue and of course this crisis and then that situation. Lots and lots of ‘and’s.’

The story of David and Goliath is full of ‘and’s.’

A fearful King.
And a large hostile army facing the Israelites.
And an ‘incredible hulk’ kind of warrior facing them.
And no one brave enough to fight.
And dismay
And terror.

Do you see how the ‘and’s’ add up? They keep adding and adding and adding until we lose sight of the individual components. It all adds to it being one HUGE PROBLEM.


But there was a young teenage boy, David, visiting his brothers.
But he had trained himself to kill lions and bears.
But he knew how to handle a slingshot.
But he knew how to pick the perfect stones for aerodynamic accuracy.
But he knew where the weak spot was that would kill.
But he knew his God.
But he knew how to breakdown any overwhelming problem into its constituent parts and to take action.
But he was dismissed as being too young.

For every problem that feels overwhelming, there is a ‘but.’


It’s time to take action.

Therefore David fell back on the confidence and faith that he had developed when facing lions and bears.
Therefore David rejected the offer of the King’s armor and weapons.
Therefore David chose five smooth stones.
Therefore he prayed.
Therefore he narrowed his focus to aim for the perfect headshot.
Therefore he overcame.

David went in ‘the strength that he had’ much like Gideon was called to do (see Three Bible Verses to Reassure when You feel Stress)

Break it down before you breakdown

Much of the stress we face can feel overwhelming, like a Goliath, but it can be broken down into smaller and smaller components.

At times we need to get quite pragmatic about our lives.

  • What is in my control and what is not.
  • What I can do and what others need to do.
  • What I am responsible for and what I am not responsible for.

When we breakdown the problem into manageable chunks, we can then tackle each part of the problem in bite-sized pieces. As they say, ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time’.

What is your Goliath?

What taunts you? Is there something that seems overwhelming and huge that you are facing. Does it feel too big for you to cope with?

Break it down before it breaks you down.


Mental Health is ... learning how to be pragmatic and to breakdown problems, before they break you downCLICK TO TWEET

Quotes to consider

  • A goal without a plan is just a wish.― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away. Linus Pauling
  • Before you get anything else, get organized. It will always save you time and trouble and unnecessary anger. David Riddel

Questions to answer

  1. Thinking of a situation you are facing, what are its parts?
  2. What is a ‘Goliath’ to you?
  3. What are the ‘but’s’ in your life that you can strengthen yourself in?

Further reading

7 Mental Health Benefits of Having a ‘Can Do’ Task List.

How to Help Others Solve Problems in 8 Steps

Three Bible Verses to Reassure when You feel Stress

Barry Pearman

Photo by Kylo on Unsplash

Learn more about A, B, T – And, But, Therefore writing from Randy Olson.

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