2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
It happened in the middle of the local superstore. Holiday shoppers scurrying all around. A cart full of supplies for the ladies Christmas party. The checklist of details in my head somehow got tangled up in my brain. Completely turned upside down with every other to-do list it began sucking me into the vortex of too much to do and too little time. My heart began racing . My head pounding. Stress, anxiety and pressure met together and staged their attack and it worked. I left the cart and walked out the door.
Can you feel it? The pressure, stress and anxiety waged against the human heart and mind during this busy season. The Light shining in our heart somehow grows dim under the shadow of human expectation and high demands. It doesn’t have to be the world. It can even be the church often found to be a shelter of peace and place of rest. I have openly shared my own struggles with the holiday season in an attempt to help others overcome the enemy’s plight to steal the love, joy and peace out of Christmas. To somehow overshadow the hope that arrived when Jesus made His Arrival.
“We are pressed on every side by troubles…” The first step to overcoming the burden of our heart is to find the source of the pressure. Trouble comes in all shapes and sizes. It is no respecter of persons. The uninvited guest overstaying their welcome – it begins to take over our thoughts and feelings. Like a thief in the night, it comes unexpectedly and takes others belongings. There is a promise in the pressure. We will not be crushed. When we are perplexed, there is a limit before reaching despair. Though hunted down by a ruthless enemy, we are never abandoned or forsaken by God. No matter how many times knocked down, we cannot be destroyed. It is through suffering, our life begins to resemble that of Jesus. What is your response to pressure? Walk away? Tap out? Shut down? Melt down?
Proverbs 24:10 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.
Reading this today, I can’t help but thing “no kidding”. What if this is not a slight or cut down but a simple observation? God’s Word is instruction. It is not uncommon for Christians to think that every bit of opposition and adversity that creates pressure in our life is from the enemy of our soul. I believe God uses the very thing the enemy has tried to break us for His Glory. What if the pressure is not from the external force but the internal God who lives in us? What if it is the Holy Spirit pressing out the doubt, uncertainty and insecurity found in hidden unbelief in the deepest darkest recesses of our heart? To fail under pressure often reveals parts of our being reliant on an insufficient source.
Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
The father brought his son to Jesus. Filled with an evil spirit, he was constantly tortured. Convulsions that through him violently to the ground. Foaming at the mouth and grinding his teeth. It even tried to kill the boy by throwing him in water and fire. The father was desperate so he came to Jesus. The disciples tried to cast out the demon but could not. So the father came to the Lord sharing his plight. He said to the Lord, “Have mercy on us and help us…if you can.”
“If you can…” Words fatal to our faith and evidence of unbelief. Driven to the edge of despair, the contents of the father’s heart poured out before the Lord. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Do you believe today? The father was honest in his response to Jesus. “I do believe but help me overcome my unbelief?” This is the product of pressure. Pressure forces what is in our heart out of it. It allows us to carefully inspect the contents. Careful examination often reveals the fears, doubts and insecurities hidden within so that we can give them to Jesus so He WILL DO what He has already promised to do!
Psalm 119:143 (NLT) As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.
Pressure is applied by expectation. Expectation in any other source than Jesus Christ has the possibility of being unmet. God’s Word tells us exactly what is given to us by the Lord and what is not. It is a light for our path and compass for our soul. It reveals the traps and pitfalls set for us by the enemy. Jesus gives us examples time and time again of ways to overcome fear with faith and triumph over trouble by simply believing. We need the Word of God for faith to become logical and for practical application in our life. The Word was made flesh. Jesus is the Word of God. There is no way to know Him without knowing the Word. There is no way to reach the Father without Jesus. Faith is seeded by the Word and then watered by it as it grows, develops and matures in our life. A seed undergoes tremendous pressure to be transformed into its true potential as do God’s People.
Matthew 9:17 (NLT) “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
Are you pressed today? What if the pressure is coming from the inside and not the outside? What if the Holy Spirit is working in you and through you so that God’s Goodness and Glory will be manifested in your life? Pressure requires change. Our old life, old ways, and old habits must be revealed to be removed. As God begins to change us from the inside out and do that new work inside of us – it produces pressure. Those who choose to stay the same will burst under pressure – give up, go back and quit the process of redemption, restoration and renewal that the Lord has begun. Those who allow the Lord to transform them from the inside out will see new life, new hope, and all things become new because they believed.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
Can you feel it? God is pressing us today. He wants to give us new life. To make us into a new creation. There are some things that must go and seeds to be planted in its place. Generosity in our life begins within our heart. We must not give in response to pressure but rather willingly. God will do exactly what His Word says for those who believe. He is doing for those who do not believe but because their faith is in other things – they do not see results. Pressure, stress, worry and burdens are part of life. What we do when trouble comes dictates the outcome. I can choose to retain them in fear and doubt caused by unbelief or I can surrender them all to Jesus Christ.
Faith is an action not just a word. It means taking my life and sowing it as seed into the Kingdom. When pressure comes don’t blame the enemy but seek the Lord. Failing under pressure means our strength is not coming from God but either self or some other unworthy source. You are a Child of the King. Live like it. Let Him show you who you are and what He has for you in His Word. Talk to Him and listen for His Whispers to you. Your life has purpose and it is glorious. Lord, let us be vessels that do not give into pressure but give way to Your Spirit – In Jesus Name!
John 16:33 (NLT) “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”