PRESSURE IN THE EGG!
I watched with interest as my fellow worker nonchalantly placed a boiled egg on the microwave oven during our lunch hour one day. He set the timer for just a few seconds, anticipating a very tasty addition to his boring lunch. Moments later, we jumped as the egg splattered all over the inside of the oven with a pop! I can't give a scientific explanation for the phenomenon, but I do know one thing: The pressure in that innocent egg had been too much and the poor thing had exploded!
THIS IS A PRESSURE PACKED WORLD!
Pressure. The pressures of life. Pressures from a variety of sources: circumstances, disappointments, financial duress, death, rebellious children, sickness. Sometimes, like that unfortunate egg, we feel like exploding! And sometimes we do! There must be a way of survival in the midst of a pressure-packed world. And I believe that there is!
Jesus, of course, is the answer to every human need and ultimately to the pressure problem, too. But let's look "in," instead of "up" for a moment. How do we react when faced with pressure-causing circumstances? Allow me to suggest three possible responses.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT PRESSURE?
We can, number one, rebel and resist. Have you ever tried to walk the wrong way in a crowd of moving people? It doesn't work. Besides becoming frustrated, getting bumped around and generally causing a disturbance, no headway is made!
Webster defines the verb, "to rebel," like this: "To renounce, resist by force the authority of one's ruler or government; to be insubordinate."The interesting thing about rebellion is that it manifests itself in so many easy forms: unbelief, murmuring, disobedience, rejection, revolt, stubbornness, contempt, backsliding, and even in the subtlety of hypocrisy.
The children of Israel manifested all of these unfavorable characteristics at one point or another throughout their journeying.
Remember the story of Korah's rebellion for a moment. Korah, Dathan and Abiram incited 250 leaders of the people to band together and approach Moses and Aaron.Why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly?" they accused. "Is it is not enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to have us die in the wilderness, but you would also lord it over us? (Num.16:3-13).
GOD'S DRAMATIC JUDGMENT!The upshot of the whole affair was God's dramatic judgment. The ground swallowed up the entire households of the three rebels, and the 250 followers were consumed by fire. Then follows an almost unbelievable verse:But on the next day, all the congregation of the sons of Israel murmured!
What gall! What a jarring example of ingratitude and stunted memory! How soon they forgot the wretchedness of Egypt and the miraculous way God had delivered then! Suddenly Egypt became the land flowing with milk and honey and their present situation loathsome!
Rebellion complicates every circumstance and multiplies every pressure. Israel could have quietly submitted to God's dealings with them, but they chose resistance instead. What began as a relatively short trip turned into a 40-year ordeal.
TO DESPOND, TO BECOME DISCOURAGED
Another possible reaction to our negative circumstances is to despond: to become discouraged, disheartened, to experience a loss of hope, depression, self-pity. Sounds familiar?
Despondency doesn't suddenly "hit you" right out of the blue, although at the time it may appear to. It is the end product of a series of repeated misbeliefs - lies - accepted as truth. Allow me to illustrate.
Mr. Brown suddenly lost his job. With inflation raging, his company was forced to cut back on salaries. Initially, although it was a shock, Mr. and Mrs. Brown were optimistic, believing something would soon "work out." Instead of employment, however, Mr. Brown found himself flat on his back with broken leg. Now the pressure mounted and so did the "erring thoughts."
Let's verbalize his thinking:
- "We won't be able to make our house payment because I cannot work."
- "We will be forced to sell the house- where will we go?
- "I'm never going to get well."
- "My family must think I'm a failure."
- "God doesn't care about me."
- "God caused this malady and the loss of my job."
- "I am a failure, to myself and to God."
Now, he was discouraged. Was it his circumstances that discouraged him or what he told himself about his circumstances that brought him down?
Mr. Brown's thinking could have gone something like this:
- "Although our income has ceased, God will provide. He has promised to meet our needs.
- "We may be forced to sell the house and move, but that wouldn't be so bad. A move like that would be in God's divine plan and engineered for our good."
- "I am going to get well. Broken legs heal."
- "God must really love me to trust me with trying times as these. He's interested in producing in me the coveted qualities of patience, hope, endurance and faith. He hasn't engineered these "negatives" but has allowed them for my spiritual growth."
- "This situation has nothing to do with failure. I am a success by virtue of the fact that I am a child of God and walking with Him."
Unrealistic thinking? Not at all! Thought pattern #1 produced unbelievable pressure. The alternative plan brings health and peace of mind.
Paul exhorts us in Romans 12:2 not to be like the world, but rather "be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
A vital part of the process is exemplified in Mr. Brown's "right thinking." The only right reaction to life's negatives can be summed up in one word, "brokenness." That doesn't sound like much fun, does it? But it's God's way; it is the way of blessing.
To break is both God's work and ours. It is our choice to quietly submit to God's dealings with us. God is in control. Things are not just "happening," but rather are being divinely tailored for our good. God uses humiliations and vexations to break us so that the treasure within, The Lord Jesus Christ, may be revealed.
Consider Paul's memorable testimonial in 2 Cor. 4:7-12,We have this treasure (Christ) in earthen vessels…we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not despairing, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed… that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body.
NEEDED - BROKEN CONTAINERS!
God needs broken containers - not crushed, defeated spirits, devastated by life's problems, but rather stable, unshakable men and women of faith. Those who stand instead of stumbling, who grow rather than grovel in the face of seemingly impossible odds. Brokenness says, "yes" to God and "no" to self. Brokenness says:
- "I accept my circumstances as allowed by the Lord."
- "I refuse to believe any lies regarding them."
- "I determine to learn and grow through this experience as I know all things work together for good."
Oh yes, pressure is real. We are the targets of endless bombardments. But the choice is still ours. We have the freedom to rebel and resist, to despond, or to break and let the inner treasure be revealed.
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