Stress. Anxiety. Pressure. These triplets are part and parcel of life in Western culture. If you would like to conduct an informal survey to support this statement, observe the themes of prime-time television commercials. Stress is produced by everything from having the wrong shampoo to having an untidy toilet bowl. Anxiety is said to be cured by taking the right pill or by calling a credit relief agency. Pressure results from not having the right stock broker, the right shoes, driving the right car, to having gray hair. And of course, with the mid-term elections right around the corner, pressure, stress and anxiety will certainly result from supporting any political candidate other than the one making the commercial.
On a more personal, note life itself is pressured. The economy is unstable. Struggles in relationships are common. Families are often dominated by schedules that seem impossible to keep. Job status may be uncertain or worse. This is how the natural man’s man experiences life. How does he cope? All too often the reaction to a difficult situation is to excuse one’s behavior because “I’m under a lot of pressure.”
For Christians, when “the pressure is on,” God may seem distant. Prayers may seem to have no impact. You may have heard yourself or others say, “I know God loves me, but that doesn’t seem to help right now.” Pressure tends to lead to a disconnect with the problems that others face, even in one’s own family. “Pressure” places the focus on circumstances. That is why it is so important to trust that God’s goodness extends to the ordering of difficult circumstances, including yours.
Here are three key promises from God. These should help to put your pressure into a helpful perspective.
First, God is committed to lead us—that is, to discipline us—to be more and more like Christ. Hebrews 12:7 says that we are to endure hardship as discipline. Rev. 3:19 reminds us that those God loves he rebukes and disciplines. The things that bring us pressure are designed by God to cause us to trust him as Jesus did while he was here on earth.
Second, Jesus endured temptation and the world’s “pressure” specifically so that he could help you when you face temptation and pressure. As was certainly the case with Jesus, the hardships we endured are not always because we have done something wrong. Sometimes pressure comes to simply encourage us to trust God in spite of circumstances. Christ endured his time on earth in order to bring glory to God— and to help you in your time of need, when you must endure pressure (Hebrews 2:17-18).
Third, you have the very power of Christ through his Spirit at your disposal. This power is not so much to cause the circumstances to change, but to cause you to change so that God is honored when pressure comes. This is what living for the glory of God is all about. Romans 8:31 states this reality positively: “If God is for us who can be against us?” In contrast, Proverbs 24:10 states the consequences of yielding to pressure. These three translations of this verse help bring this truth into sharp focus:
If you falter in times of trouble,
how small is your strength! NIV
If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small. ESV
If you fail under pressure,
your strength is too small. NLT
You can do all the things through Christ—things that bring honor to God because you have the power of Christ at your disposal. Notice it is not God’s strength that is too small, but yours.
Yes, pressure is real. We all know it. But the power of Christ through his Spirit can help us overcome all of the pressures that the world has in store. Even when things seem overwhelming, the reality is that God is able to do immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine; he can help you bring honor to his name in any circumstance you face.
The pressures of life are opportunities for the immense power of God to bring glory to his name and to bring his blessings for you. The pressures of this life will not relent. But your God is faithful. He will never leave you or forsake you, especially when the pressure is on.