March 27, 2017

Handling Pressure without Being Squeezed

Handling Pressure without Being Squeezed blog graphic

“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence.” James 1:2-4 (Ph) 

Are you feeling squeezed by the pressures of life?  Deadlines and life’s demands, along with trials and temptations, create pressures that often crowd into our lives and test our faith. As much as I would like to avoid them, I’m learning that God uses pressure in my life in a positive and faith-building way if I will cooperate and trust Him in the process.

When the things we expected to happen don’t happen, we begin to feel the pressure to produce them ourselves or the pressure that, maybe, we missed God somewhere. James must have dealt with his share of pressures when he gave us this wise counsel.  It’s interesting how he encourages us to respond to the trials and temptations that crowd into our lives.  First of all he says,

“Don’t resent them as intruders, ….”  

Resentment is a typical response.  Who wants them?  Pressures weigh us down and trigger some natural responses, depending on our personality.  I don’t know how you’re wired, but most of us respond to pressure negatively at first, kind of like the characters in Winnie the Pooh:

  • Piglet – the worrywart who is always fearful of what to do.
  • Eeyore – the pessimist who can only see how things won’t work out.
  • Rabbit – the control freak who tries to fix everyone and everything.
  • Tigger – the spontaneous, carefree soul who’s also an emotional roller coaster.
  • Pooh – the naïve optimist who is often oblivious to what is happening.

Which one are you most like?  Sometimes, I have a little of each of these responses depending on the pressure.  James offers a counterintuitive response to pressure though.  He says we should “welcome them as friends!”  Seriously?  I’m so glad he didn’t stop there.  How and why should we welcome pressures into our lives?  Here’s where it gets good:

“Realize (that’s perspective) that they come to test your faith and to produce in you a quality of endurance.”  

In other words, God designs the pressures in our lives to develop our faith, to make it stronger.  If we cooperate with the process, there is a spiritual benefit.  It’s called “maturity.”  It’s part of our development in God’s family as He shapes our character into the image of His Son. This won’t make the pressures go away, but it certainly gives us a better way to handle them.