Spiritual Non-Fiction posted December 22, 2015 Chapters: 3 4 -5- 

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Pressure can be good or evil

A chapter in the book Idol Adventures

When the Pressure Is Too Much

by Deniz22


The Apostle Paul told of his own experience with over-whelming pressure here in 2 Corinthians 2:8: "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death."

COMMENT: At first glance, we may be amazed to learn the great Apostle is confessing to such pressure he even "despaired of life" and felt death was inevitable. After all, he had expressed and demonstrated tremendous faith in many other places.

It is he who taught in 1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

So what is going on? Is Paul folding under pressure and thus giving the lie to his teaching in other places in scripture?

No, we can't believe such is the case. What we do believe is the absolute honesty of the Apostle in confessing to the fact of stress which all people experience. We are encouraged that what Paul successfully endured and overcame can be a blueprint for victory in our own battle with stress, even overwhelming stress.

The key to victory for the Apostle was finding meaning and purpose in unavoidable stress. Here's the conclusion he reached in the depths of his own painful experience:

"But this happened (this threat of imminent death) that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."

So distress, real distress, spirit-breaking distress, is allowed in the believer's life so we will not count on ourselves (our personal strength, intelligence, education, wealth, friends, position) "BUT ON GOD, WHO RAISES THE DEAD."

Self-reliance is our common area of greatest weakness. It may "work" in minor areas of our lives, but it will be crushed in the jaws of the realities of life.

Anyone can see faith in the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead and is able to save us in life or death is far superior to our weak and fleshy resolves . Yet our natural tendency is to rely on ourselves. Thus it becomes apparent we we need help in this area: who are we going to trust, self or God?

God allows this test to happen again and again in the Christian life until we begin to see the wisdom of Christ in those strange sounding words (to our self-sufficient ears) of James 1:2:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Achieving maturity in the faith may involve many bumps and bruises along the path, but it is far superior to the cul-de-sac of immaturity. There we simply go round and round, like the disobedient Israelites wandering in the wilderness of sin. So let us make it our aim to become mature as our Father wants us to be, even while honestly admitting we have not yet "arrived".

As Paul said in Philippians 3:10-14:

10 I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The rest of the original passage regarding Paul's experience with overwhelming pressure is found here:

10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

LAST COMMENT: Perhaps the "deadly peril" Paul is referring to is not death. Could it be he is praising God for delivering him from self-reliance which is indeed a "deadly peril" to real faith in the living God?

May God also deliver us and the church from relying on man-made schemes which disregard the saving power of the Word of God.

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