“Why has ‘this’ been appointed to me?” I don’t know what your “this” is today, but I do know most of us have asked this question during times of trouble. I have several dear friends in my heart right now and honestly; it’s hard to understand why they are going through their intense trials. If I could, I would fix it and make everything ok because I think they deserve it. I’m not entitled to correct circumstances I don’t like. But I am empowered to walk alongside, pray earnestly, and offer words of truth to encourage them on their journey of faith. So if this word applies to you, I pray these words will lift your heart, and you will receive strength to sustain you on the course set before you.
Into the Pressure Cooker
“All pressure should lead to enlargement.” Watchman Nee
This statement by the dedicated Chinese evangelist and Bible teacher, Watchman Nee, caught my attention. I had to stop and meditate and pray and ask the Lord to give me insights. Nee persevered and endured in an extremely hostile environment for believers. He made this statement from the personal experiences of one well acquainted with pressure and poverty.
Pressing trials attempt to squeeze hope and courage out of us slowly. Little by little the relentless weight of finances, responsibilities, deadlines for decisions, waiting, comparing, grieving, and all sorts of harassing situations wear us down. Maybe one of the most significant pressures we stagger under is time. “How long, how much longer? How far, how much further? How much, how much more?” So how could pressure with it’s cruel and crushing time torture tricks lead to a place of enlargement?
The Guide to Insight
One way to find insights into our “whys” is to look at the way God works in the world around us. Notice I said insights, not explanations. Scripture is filled with truth and examples, but God accepts no pressure to answer to us about His ways.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are my ways higher than your ways,
And my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8
He is God. However, when we pray for revelation and ask the Holy Spirit to show us how to rest in the midst of pressure, He is faithful.
The pressure you are under is not sent to crush you. It is the means to the end. The end of pressure is the possibility of producing something beautiful and precious. Pure gold gets refined in the fire of affliction. Intense heat burns away the dross, and the result is the finest and most valuable gold. All precious gems form under pressure deep within the layers of the earth. They are mined, chiseled, cut, and polished in the process of becoming an object of beauty. Even pearls are formed slowly, layer by layer, as a result of an irritant in the oyster lining. In all of these illustrations, it is clear the pressure produced greater usefulness and value. Enlargement is the result.
The Refinement of Fire in Your Life
Can you apply this to your place of pressure today? The refining fire may feel unbearable. Like Job, you may feel as if God is not there and your friends and even family are challenging your faith. But never forget God sees and hears your cries. You may have no clue where the next step leads.
“But he knows the way I take. When he has tried me, I will come out as pure as gold.” Job 23:10
Your circumstances may have you hidden away in a very dark and lonely place. You could feel buried under layers of your past and consequences of poor decisions. In the hand of the Master creator, there is priceless potential for your life to reflect the valuable treasure pressure is capable of producing.
“And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, which call you by your name, am the God of Israel.” Isaiah 45:3
There may be a person or situation that began as a small irritant for you. Day after day, layer upon layer of discomfort have accumulated to deposit the formation of a relationship with the Pearl of Greatest Price. Under the continual rub of a loveless marriage, caring for a person with special needs, living with chronic pain, constant criticism, false accusations, and a thousand other things you have felt the tender touch of Jesus draw you close and strengthen and sustain you. He has enlarged your heart and taken your spirit to a spacious place.
Lord, I confess I would choose comfort and ease. Forgive me. Thank you for protecting me from crushing pressure and instead of turning it into opportunities to enlarge my heart for more of You!