When Jesus said, “… in this world you will have trouble …” He wasn’t kidding. I can’t seem to shake away from trouble. I mean, I’m not making trouble, well I don’t think I am, but trouble seems to be all around me.
Strong’s concordance defines “trouble” both literally and figuratively as “pressure.” Some translators use tribulation to describe the kind of pressure Jesus was talking about. Honestly, I think I’d be okay without the pressure, but apparently Jesus sees it differently.
I like to cook and one of my favorite tools in the kitchen is my lemon squisher. There’s something so satisfying about crushing a lemon to extract out all the juice. That squeezer tool does such a better job than my achy old hands — plus I don’t waste any of it.
Perhaps in God’s kitchen the squeezy tool is a favorite too. The pressure is a reminder of His promise. In the same verse He says, “… take heart! I have overcome the world.” When the squeezing pressure is noticeable,, taking our eyes off the problem and looking to the promise is where we will find peace. The whole verse reads, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
THE PRESSURE OF PAIN
Saturday I got a text message and video from my friend Glenn who was driving a van in and out of Ukraine right during that moment, trying to get food and supplies to our YWAM missionaries still serving and helping those who can’t flee the country. Minutes before they showed up at one of their destinations, a bomb went off. They drove up in time to help a little girl whose leg was mutilated by the blast and get her to safety. The next day, Palm Sunday, Glenn preached a message in a small Ukrainian church. In the middle of the chaos and pressure of war, a young lady gave her life to Jesus.
Pressure both moved our teams to do something and help, as well as opened one young lady’s heart to the Gospel. I don’t know if I’m thankful for war, but I am thankful that in spite of it, Jesus keeps His promise to save the lost.
THE PRESSURE OF PROVISION
When the bank account is zeroed out, the pressure’s on. Is there anything more telling of where our trust remains then to strip away resources? How will we respond when being squeezed like a turnip. (Can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. Ever heard that expression?) Many years ago, Amy and I read the stories of George Muller, Hudson Taylor, and others who trusted God with their finances and provisions. Their stories became our examples.
Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33: “Set your heart on the kingdom and his goodness, and all these things will come to you as a matter of course” became a promise to live by. Financial pressure can raise doubt and cause us to question if we are doing the right thing with our lives. Why would we be struggling if we are obeying the Lord? But is that really the right question? I find myself wrestling to get out of the squeezer by whatever means necessary. It’s so easy to lose heart.
THE PRESSURE OF PURPOSE
When we say, “YES” and obey Jesus we find clarity in our purpose but not without trouble. Following Jesus runs cross-grain with culture. The pressure to just “fit-in,” not rock-the-boat, or fall back to worldly thoughts and ideas creates opportunities for us to trust Jesus and His Word. On more than one occasion I have literally thought, “I’d be better off doing something else.” WHAT?! I’ve been a Jesus’ follower for nearly my whole life. Maybe not the best at following sometimes but a follower at heart! How can fear of being rejected by man, hardships in relationships, or feeling unheard so easily derail my faith?
That’s what pressure does. It takes what’s inside and exposes it for all to see. If Jesus said he’s overcome the world then He’s overcome it! We can be courageous, and whatever trouble comes our way, we can turn into praise. God is at work in our lives to show the world He’s a good Father. Let the trouble come. Jesus has won. He is our peace.
Amy and I are very grateful to teach and disciple this next generation. In the midst of pressure, we don’t want to quit. I don’t know what pressures are squeezing you right now, but I pray you too will hear the Lord’s words to Take Heart! Jesus has overcome the world. He doesn’t promise easy, but He does promise to be with us always.
Thank you for your continued partnership with our family in missions.