Our world is under a lot of pressure. Hurricanes Henry, Irma, Jose, and now Maria. Forest fires in the Pacific Northwest. Earthquake in Mexico. Saber rattling in North Korea. Racial tension in St. Louis. Political conflicts between Democrats and Republicans. The pressure mounts.
Your life may be under a lot of pressure. Young children who demand your attention. A spouse who doesn’t give you enough attention. Expenses that far exceed income. A health concern that becomes a crisis. The pressure mounts.
In my life I face ministry demands, a son getting married, a daughter leaving the country on a mission internship, another son facing his own pressures of school and work. People pulling and time thinning. The pressure mounts.
The words of Paul reflect the anguish of our hearts: “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8).
In 1982 Billy Joel wrote a song aptly called, “Pressure.” The inspiration for the song came from his secretary who said, “Wow, you look like you’re under a lot of pressure. I bet you that’d be a good idea for a song” (MTV show, Nightschool, 1982). And so it was.
Unfortunately, the song presents the problem but doesn’t give any real solutions:
Don't ask for help. You’re all alone. Pressure. You’ll have to answer to your own. Pressure. I’m sure you’ll have some cosmic rationale, but here you are in the ninth, two men out and three men on, nowhere to look but inside, where we all respond to . . . pressure. One, two, three, four. Pressure! (Billy Joel, Pressure).
If you believe there is no purpose to pressure, then you also might feel that despair is the only solution. Rather than being all alone or simply coming up with some “cosmic rationale,” or having “nowhere to look but inside,” the Christian faith affirms we are never alone, and, even though we might not see it now, God does have a plan in allowing us to go through the crucible of pain and problems.
At one point the Apostle Paul said, they even despaired of life, “but this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (2 Corinthians 1:9). Pressure drives us to the release valve, to the God who cares (1 Peter 5:7). He is the God who delivered us and “who will deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:10). He is the God who said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). And He is the God Incarnate who said, “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
The pressure mounts, but Jesus surmounts. And so we turn to Him.