The testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:3)
One of the most important character traits for the people of God is the willingness to persevere under pressure, because the positive production of pressure returns blessings multiplied. Read on, and may you be greatly encouraged today!
The Bible is filled with examples of those who persevered under pressure. Joseph persevered under pressure, having been sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely and maliciously accused of attempted rape and cast into prison, only to rise out of the pit years later to the position of prime minister of Egypt. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego persevered under pressure, submitting to the flames of the fiery furnace rather than bowing before King Nebuchadnezzar’s statue made of gold. Esther persevered under pressure when she chose to approach the king uninvited, which could have resulted in the penalty of death, to save her people Israel. Stephen persevered under pressure right up to his very last breath, preaching the truths of the Gospel and speaking words of forgiveness to the religious leaders, even as those men were stoning him to death.
Of course, there is no greater example of persevering under pressure than the one provided by our Lord Jesus Christ. From his infancy, Jesus was pressured on every side. King Herod sought to kill the newborn King and decreed a death sentence on all male children in Bethlehem aged two and under. Throughout His entire ministry, Jesus was pressured and harassed by the religious leaders, who schemed to kill Him time and time again. And in His hour of greatest need in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was sweating drops of blood as He prayed, His pressure produced perhaps the greatest word of inspired instruction in all recorded history: “Father, if you are willing take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
God’s grace is most magnified when we are navigating the waters during the storms of life. It all comes down to trusting God even when we cannot trace His hand. The positive production of pressure cannot be overstated. It is God’s ordained way of conforming us into the image and likeness of Jesus. Our lives are shaped and hammered out on the anvil of pressure. As Peter wrote —
These [all kinds of trials] have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:7)
Remember, when you squeeze a grapefruit, you get delicious grapefruit juice. So the question is, “What do those around you receive when you are squeezed by the pressures of life?” Those pressures are merely the passageway into producing a deeper intimacy with the One who died to make you His.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!