Grapes on the Vine, God's Abundant Provision for His People

A daily devotion for February 4th

How To Handle The Pressure

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

That is life, isn't it? Here are listed all the pressures common to man, not removed in the life of a Christian. It is false that when you become a Christian everything smooths out, and you are given a membership in a red carpet club through life, so that mysterious bridges appear over all the chasms, the winds are tempered for you, and there are no pressures or difficulties. What a far cry that is from reality! The problem is, the pressures are all there. This is life in the raw. Look at these categories:

Hard pressed on every side (afflictions): These are the normal trials which everybody faces, Christian and non-Christian alike. Your washing machine breaks down on Monday morning, your mother-in-law arrives just when you didn't want her, sickness strikes in your family, heartbreaks come, the buffetings of life which come to everyone. They are all so normal, so daily.

Perplexities: This refers to all the pressing calls for decisions when we don't know what to decide. We are at a loss, we can't see the end, we don't know how it is going to turn out. We are afflicted with fears, anxieties, worries, and uncertainties, all gathered up in this word perplexities.

Persecutions: These are the misunderstandings we all run up against, the ostracisms, the cold shoulders which are shown to us at times, the malicious actions and attitudes, deliberate slights, attacks on our character and our reputation, and oftentimes, the bigoted, prejudiced, unfair practices of members of society against one another; these are all part of the Christian's life as well as the non-Christian's.

Struck down: Stunning, shattering blows which drop out of the blue into our lives — accidents, fatal illnesses, war, earthquakes, famine, riot, insanity — the terrible episodes which shatter a family or an individual, and leave us frightened and baffled. All these things are part of normal Christian experience. There is no change in the problems, the pressures.

But look at the reactions. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. There is a power within, a transcendent power, different than anything else, which keeps pushing back with equal pressure against whatever comes from without, so that we are not destroyed, not crushed or despairing. That is what the Christian life is intended to be. There is no question about it. We are called to this kind of victorious experience.

Perhaps every one of us who knows Jesus Christ has experienced something of this at times. We know how Christ can undergird us in times of sorrow and strain, but usually it is in the big things, the shattering things, that we experience something of the reality of this. But this is intended to be a constant, continuous experience. We are to meet the pressures with an answering inner pressure, not only in the big things but in the little things as well.

Lord, I pray that I may learn to accept gladly, cheerfully, and understandingly the experiences which come my way, which force me to rely upon your grace.

Life Application

How do you respond to the "slings and arrows" that life throws at you? Do you turn to Christ for his help, or do you respond with despair?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Pots, Pressures, and Power

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