The Good Stuff
When life pressures us, what comes out is not always what was on the label. But if we stay under pressure long enough the “good stuff” will start to come out!
Have you ever had a time when you squeezed a tube of something and you were surprised at what came out? Have you ever squeezed a tube of lotion or medicine and because it had not been used for a while an oil of some kind comes out? It can be surprising and off putting as well.
Now let’s take a moment to ponder what could come out of our hearts and mouths if squeezed unexpectedly. Being squeezed can look like many different things like someone dangerously cutting you off in traffic with your kids in the car. It could be when your spouse snaps at you or when your kids have gotten on your very last nerve. It can also be any combination of mental, emotional, physical, financial or spiritual issues.
We all like to think that if we were squeezed we would burst into prayer…however, many times that is not the first thing that happens. We might react with anger, rage, jealousy etc.
Now, in II Corinthians 4:8-11, Paul is talking about the mature disciples when he says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.”
In summary, Paul is saying that they are going through hard times yet they are not destroyed by any of it. The reality is that it is absolutely impossible to live in this world without being “squeezed” however we have the choice of what comes out when we are.
If we are disciples of Jesus and we are to emulate His ways it’s helpful to know how Jesus Himself handled being pressured. Luke 4 is the chapter that describes the event where Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. I don’t know about you, but it is very comforting that Jesus was squeezed just like we are. Jesus had just been baptized by His cousin John the Baptist and afterwards He headed to the wilderness where He would be tempted three different times. One was for Him to turn stones to bread. Another was to throw Himself off a cliff and the last was for Him to bow to satan. In EVERY ONE of these temptations Jesus replied with the Word of God! So there it is…our example to follow is when the pressure is squeezing in on us we should respond with prayer.
We should be asking the Lord to bless our enemies when they hurt us. Matthew 5:43-45 says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
If we are feeling pressured by the stuff of life, we should respond with specific scriptures that are applicable. It’s also worth noting that the very best way of responding with the Word is if we have it IN us. Sure you can grab your Bible on your phone or nightstand, but sometimes you have a matter of seconds to respond in a Godly manner so having the Word in your heart is optimal.
Jesus was pressured in ways we couldn’t possibly understand and He still responded in a way that was pleasing to His Father. When He was exhausted and hungry and even dealing with the death of his beloved cousin John, He responded with love and compassion for others. When He was close to facing death He cried out to God but still set aside His fear and sadness to go to the cross. Even hanging on the cross He could have called down the wrath of God on those who crucified Him. However, He actually prayed, “Father forgive them for the know not what they do.” Luke 23:34.
If Jesus Christ could be merciful and compassionate while enduring the tremendous pain of the cross, surely we can show compassion and forgiveness for those that hurt us.
As you ponder these thoughts and scriptures try and think of ways that you could ask the Lord for help. First, if you don’t know Him personally you can ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and to live in your heart as Lord. The bottom line is that as Christians when we are squeezed we want the good stuff to come out. Let’s be sure to have the Bible stored in our hearts for when the squeeze comes. We have such an amazing example in Jesus.