By Pastor David
2 Corinthians 1:8-11
We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure. . . . But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God. . . . — 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
Before Paul had his transformative experience on the road to Damascus, he was persecuting Christians. After his experience, he was the one being sought after and persecuted. He knew what he was getting into.
Can you imagine being shipwrecked, or whipped within an inch of death, or have a group of assassins after our blood? Paul experiences all of that and more, but he had forced that experience on others before his own experience of being persecuted. Paul was aware of the difficulty and persecution he was in store for yet he followed diligently. Can you imagine how stressful that could have been? How would we handle that kind of stress?
This is not to say we don’t live with stress. Stress has a way of bending us out of shape, making us act in uncharacteristic ways, and making us more vulnerable than usual to temptation. We find ourselves snapping at people, losing patience when we need it most, or becoming depressed. Some of us turn to food. Some can even turn to alcohol or drugs.
Ultimately stress can cause us to take our eyes off God and focus only on our problems.
When we’re under pressure, it’s important to realize that if we are not careful, it could have an adverse effect on our relationships with others, and God! Most importantly, we should use those situations to learn to rely on God. How do we do that?
No matter what is going on in our lives, we should ground ourselves in practices that keep us going to God. If we spend time with God, pray, talk, worship, sit in silence, read the Bible, and do it consistently, we will turn to God when circumstances get stressful. When we don’t, not having that habit can cause us to drift.
Continue to trust God when things are beyond our control, just as we do when things are going well or running smoothly. When we do the spiritual practices to ground us in God, it becomes customary and habit forming to keep turning to God. Believe that God can bring victory out of seeming defeat. Continue to live as a follower of Jesus and be courageous. That is the example that Paul gave us. As it says in Philippians 4, when we take our concerns and troubles to God, the peace of God will be with us. This is not referring to a one time deal. This is a practice that we live with, so that we can reap the benefit of grounding our lives in God. Come what may. My heart is being prepared by God so I can take on what life throws at me.
Lord, we ask not for a stress-free life but that you will teach us to rely on you. Through your Spirit living in our hearts, give us wisdom and strength. In Jesus name. Amen
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