It must have been one of those kinds of summers. Here is my second post on pressure in one month.
Every so often I have one of those awful days when one crisis seems to land on top of another, and I reach that point where I think that if one more thing happens, I am going to crack up, explode, implode or just simply drop dead, which would resolve all my problems quite nicely.
It’s at those very moments that a phrase spoken many years ago by my spiritual mentor, Duane Harder, always surfaces in my mind. I hate those words he spoke, mostly because I knew they were true. So here it goes: “Pressure is my friend.”
No, no, I protest, you made a mistake there, Duane. Pressure is not my friend at all. It is destructive, it is soul-destroying, it makes my life miserable.
But here’s the thing. Pressure does produce all sort of undesirable feelings and emotions, and it can absolutely ruin your day, week or month, no doubt about it. I’ve been there.
But the question to be asked is this: Is God really sovereign? Is he truly sitting on the throne of heaven? Is his absolute sovereignty just an item of theological truth we believe in our mind, or is it a lived reality in our experience?
If God is sovereign, then he has allowed that pressure to come upon us. That is not to say he is the author of some of the bad or wrong things that caused the pressure. It is just to say that he sovereignly and purposefully allowed the crisis to come upon us.
We complain about pressure because it doesn’t feel good. But what we should be doing is asking what God’s purpose is in the pressure.
And here’s an answer which is as good as any: pressure is meant to propel us into the presence of God.
When do we grow in God? Not when times are good, but when things are hard. The impact of our still very imperfect nature ensures that we usually don’t seek God seriously until we have to.
When the pressure mounts, can I encourage you to do one simple thing? Go somewhere where you have some privacy, throw yourself on God’s mercy, submit to God’s ways and cry out to him for help.
I have a good friend called Mike Monson who owns a couple of meat-packing factories, one in Michigan and the other in Indiana. If you tour the premises, you will see how the beef or pork is ground up and squeezed into packages fit for sale. That’s what pressure does. In this case, it produces some of the tastiest pork patties you will find anywhere in the United States.
I have days when I feel like the poor cow or pig entering Mike’s killing floor. But the truth is that pressure has the effect of killing my pride, my independence and my rebellion. It may not make me fit to eat, but it does make me fit to live more effectively as a son of God.
I love men and women of faith. But faith is not the ability to shield ourselves from pain and pressure. Faith is the ability to stand in the midst of anything hell can throw against us. The power of faith is not in our confession, but in the God whose promise and Word we confess.
When the pressure becomes unbearable, all you can do is hold on to the sovereignty and the love of God. But that is all you need to do, for in fact his love is holding on to you.
And what the enemy intended for evil will be turned to good in his amazing hands.
If you’re in Michigan, try one of Mike’s pork patties, and be grateful to God that the result of his pressure process leaves you in much better condition than Mike’s poor pigs.
But here’s one last tip: don’t ask Mike for the recipe. He won’t give it to you.
And you don’t need it, because what works for Mike or his pigs may not work for you. God’s recipe for producing character in each person is different. Just embrace what he is doing in you.
Pressure is your friend. Let it do its work.