I remember at Prairie Bible Institute a most favorite teacher and pastor, Dr. Ted Rendall in one of his sermons quoting from a poem which I occasionally have thought of since, about pressure. How life is full of it, what it’s like, and how it drives us (or should) into knowing God’s help. Sometimes I’m not sure that I get as far as knowing God’s help, but I sure can know my own frailty.
Pressure stalked Mary and Joseph on every side. From the time of the angelic visitation to Mary to the time when she and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem when she was close to the time of giving birth to Jesus, and then beyond, we see that pressure was part of their lives.
Jesus being as fully human as you and I was certainly no stranger to pressure. In fact we know for sure that he felt it especially evident in the Garden of Gethsemane where he sweat drops as it were of blood (I don’t take it as actual sweating of blood, but a metaphorical description of his sweating to indicate the intense suffering he was undergoing).
We often think we’d do better with less pressure. Life easier managed. Or maybe a life of ease, with everything going our way. But not according to scripture, nor according to my own experience. Of course there are moments when I begin to wonder just how much more I can take, or I think I don’t want to take anymore. This is where our attitude of mind in Jesus can come into play. An attitude not meant to be independent of God or of others, especially of those in Jesus.
There is no doubt that we need periods of rest and relaxation. Hopefully uninterrupted. And the issue becomes just how well we learn to cope with pressure. And not only cope, but how we end up being changed, or what we’re becoming through it.
In God’s will in Jesus, we’re becoming conformed into the image and likeness of Jesus, no less. A part of the new humanity in Jesus together. Whatever it means, and I have my own understanding of this along with accepting an inevitable element of mystery: Jesus himself learned obedience from what he suffered.
Pressure comes in all kinds of forms including temptation, challenges to our faith, etc. But like Mary and Joseph, and Jesus himself, pressure in life is the lot of all who would seek to live in God’s will in the here and now.
May we learn to embrace pressure as God’s rule of helping us grow and live in his grace and kingdom in Jesus together for the world.