I have observed in counseling that many are not good at handling the pressures of life. As the apostle Paul writes to the church of Corinth; “We are hard pressed on every side…” II Cor. 4:8. The pressures of life have erupted in various ways. Pressures from personal relationships are a concern to all of us whether they come from immediate family, in-laws, employers, friends or people who have wronged us in one way or another. Not only do relationships cause pressure, but the personal responsibility of providing for ourselves and others who may be dependent on us. The pressure of paying bills, putting food on the table, purchasing clothing and shoes, fixing vehicles, buying insurance, paying the rent or mortgage, repairing a leaky roof, and so on… I’m sure you could add your own personal pressures to this list.
Sometimes I think we live in the fantasy of a life without troubles and there seems to be an illusion that we can escape bad things. Then, when something bad happens, we immediately succumb to a despairing mood. We run to and fro looking for remedies. When no relief is provided, we fall into anxiety, hopelessness, depression, anger, envy and jealousy; ending up in many cases with suicidal tendencies. All this can lead to a barrage of medications just trying to keep one’s head above water.
Let me say to you that you must develop a Biblical foundation from God’s Word in order to rise above all the hurts, disappointments, failures, rejections, and even the experience of being forsaken. Paul writes to the believers in Corinth; “But we have this treasure (the life of Jesus in us) in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not of us.”(NKJV) “We are hedged in (pressed) on every side – troubled and oppressed in every way; but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair.” (Amplified Version) (II Cor. 4: 7-8)
While reading The Pacific, by Hugh Ambrose, I came across an incident by Marine Captain Shofner and his reaction to the artillery and bombs landing on the island of Corregidor in the Philippines. The Japanese were closing in on the Marines holding the island. In the midst of all the bombardment, Captain Shofner assessed his predicament with calm acceptance. According to him, it was just life in the “bull’s eye”. It is this kind of thinking that we must appropriate if we are to be able to handle the cares of life. Scripture speaks to us in Proverbs 23:7; “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.”
Furthermore, it is not only one’s right thinking, it is the decision not to give up when we’ve lost some battles in our lives. Those Marines were ordered to surrender by higher command but Captain Shofner said to his troops; “Boys, we lost, but we’ve got to survive. We are not going to give up within ourselves.”
It is this giving up within ourselves that opens up the wiles of the devil who takes advantage of negative thinking and subsequently unbridled emotions drift in with an atmosphere of defeat, fear, depression, and hopelessness. But, this is the problem! We left the truth of the power of God’s truth in our souls. No longer living by truth, we are rocked to and fro in the storms of life without a rudder. We have abandoned the anchor of our soul, Christ alone. “It is no longer I who lives but Christ lives in me; and I live by faith in the Son of God…” Galatians 2:20.
It is only in living by faith that we will be able to handle the pressures of life. Amazing grace operates in the realm of faith; not fear. Faith operates in the application of God’s Word; not by what we see. “We walk by faith and not by sight.” (II Cor. 5:7) At some point we must passionately look to God to handle the pressures of life, even at the point of feeling cast off. “God, You have cast us off; You have broken us down; You have been displeased; Oh, restore us again! … Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless.” Psalm 60: 1, 11
How about you: Are you overwhelmed by the pressures of life? Have you turned to the world for relief, or to Christ and His Word? How have you been reacting in the “bull’s eye”? Have you been living by sight rather than by faith? Are you living in fear rather than hope? Start today; examine yourself. Get your life, your thinking, your emotions back on track with God. He will strengthen you to handle the pressures of life. As one of my seminary professors, Dr. Harold Burchett, would say; “Never raise the white flag of surrender when there is smoke, because you are winning.”