“No steam or gas drives anything until it is confined. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined” Henry Emerson Fosdick. (an American pastor)
This quote teaches us a valuable lesson that is supported by Scripture. We may not like pressure but we have to admit that pressure focusses us to get things done.
The great apostle and preacher of the Gospel, Paul, was fully focussed on God and yet he writes: “for we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself, indeed we felt that we had received the sentence of death.” (2 Corinthians 1:8)
Later, in the same letter, he says “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed.”(2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Of Jesus it is recorded: “although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:8-9)
Surely God is teaching us that life has its troubles and that we should accept the trials, the troubles and the chastening that come to everyone whom he loves. We all agree “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
While Paul, having been blinded by the light from heaven when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-18) , wondered what was going to happen to him next , Jesus told Ananias, a disciple, when he was sent to find Paul, “For I will show him (Paul) how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” (Acts 9:16)
Paul did indeed suffer. Later in life he reflected upon the sufferings he endured for the Lord.
“Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one……with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings and often near death.” (2 Corinthians 11:23)
He was beaten with whips and rods, stoned, shipwrecked three times and survived many other dangers. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28)
Paul surrendered his own will to God, just as the Lord Jesus Christ did.
Paul exclaims, “…. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
As followers of God and of Jesus Christ we must try to adopt Paul’s attitude when we confront our personal problems and sufferings, knowing that God knows every pressure and hardship we will face. Rom 5:3 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings owing that sufferings produces endurance, endurance produces character and character produces nope (Romans 5:3)
We are being prepared for our eternal salvation. For this wonderful hope set before us let us endure the pressures and problems that come our way and look forward to the “crown of righteousness” that is laid up for us if we will put God and Jesus first in our minds and in our actions.
The words of this hymn are a prayer encouraging us to trust in God wherever our path may lead.
Give to the winds thy fears;
Hope and be undismayed;
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears:
God shall lift up thy head.
Put thou thy trust in God,
In duty’s path go on;
Walk in his strength with faith and hope
So shall thy work be done.
Leave to His sovereign sway
To choose and to command:
With wonder filled, thou then shalt own
How wise, how strong His hand!
Through waves and clouds and storms,
He gently clears thy way;
Wait thou his time, so shall the night
Soon end in joyous day.
(Paulus Gerhardt 1607 -76 tr John Wesley