Many years ago when I was first pastoring I went through a time of burnout. In one year we had a baby, my youth pastor left, my father died, we shifted house, my wife Anneke almost died and I just fizzed out. After we had a couple of week’s holidays, just staring at the flowers in the countryside and talking to Father, I came right.
The word translated in the Bible as “Tribulation” really means pressure or restriction. It’s when we feel like we are restricted or unable to do anything about a situation or seemingly oppressed by the economy, circumstances or people in our life. We all face lots of pressure in our life and sometimes it can become too much to cope with.
Bill Hybels said that once when he hit the wall, although he was physically fit and spiritually in good shape, emotionally he was empty, and had to do something to refill his emotional tank! This is good advice but sometimes in very pressured or busy times we simply get too busy for solitude and times of replenishment with God.
Paul tells how he coped with the pressure. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed (pressure) on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed ( 2Co 4:7-10).
Although Paul had a great number of pressures in his life, he also had a great treasure inside his earthen vessel. Paul’s treasure was the power of God. He had the Holy Spirit, the word of God and faith in God. The Holy Spirit is likened to water within us and water has pressure. He was able to persevere because he had built himself up and maintained some Holy Spirit “pressure” within. He also saw his life as a vessel of blessing to others and trusted that the pressures were necessary to make him the greatest blessing. His perspective redeemed the pressures for God greater purpose.” For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you (2Co 4:11-12).
Then he says what he did with that treasure. “And since we have the same spirit of faith…we also believe and therefore speak ( 2 Co 4:13). When Paul had pressures, he spoke in faith he pushed back against it, no doubt declaring Gods sovereign rule and goodness in his life.
We can build up sufficient “pressure” of the treasure of God within us each day that it is able to push back against the pressure without. We can build ourselves up in our faith and declare Gods word until His strength arises in us. This way we can meet a “100 kg weight” of pressure with an “110 kg weight of Holy Ghost strength and power.
In the time of David, there was a cripple called Mephibosheth who belonged to the family of Jonathan. David invited him to sit at his own royal table. While Mephibosheth sat at the king’s table with the others royal sons, no one noticed his weakness or that he was crippled. Sometimes when we are not coping with pressures and our human weakness’s break out, it’s just an indication and an invite to spend more time at the Kings table.
Friend, there are things we can all do to prepare for pressure like keeping fit, doing things that recharge our emotional tank and making time for some stillness but to overcome pressures in your life, we need to grow in Gods strength by enjoying time with Him. At His table, we can become more aware of the presence and the “pressure of the Holy Spirit,” in our life, for He has promised to pour His strength into those that wait on Him.