“When poor people get involved in a long conflict, such as a strike or a civil rights drive, and the pressure increases each day, there is a deep need for spiritual advice. Without it, we see families crumble, leadership weaken, and hard workers grow tired.” – Cesar Chavez
“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.”- Kobe Bryant I was listening to the PBS news show Amanpour & Co., featuring economic and healthcare experts like Dr. David Nott, a Welsh trauma surgeon who has served for 23 years taking unpaid leaves in war-torn zones like Syria. Dr. Nott is currently battling the coronavirus in London. He stated that in traumatic situations like
this pandemic, our adrenaline and survival instincts are operating. We feel OK as we’re addressing the immediate crisis, but when we come out from the calamity; it may take weeks before we really feel the emotions that result from being in trauma. This is normal, and because of the breadth of the global pandemic’s impact may result in mental health issues for those on the front lines of medicine and other essential workers, for those who’ve been homeschooling, or for those who’ve lost incomes. Pastors and leaders would be wise to prepare for what Cesar Chavez refers to as a coming ‘deep need for spiritual advice.‘ PRESSURE is the feeling of stressful urgency caused by the necessity of doing or achieving something, especially with limited time, We Americans have been acculturated not just to deny that we’re under pressure, but to disparage those vulnerable and transparent enough to admit it. We have been told to suck it up, to never let ‘them’ see you sweat. I find it interesting that the Apostle Paul faced ridicule, imprisonment, poisonous snake bites, was shipwrecked, and threatened with death…but did not shy away from stating emphatically and specifically, that he was under pressure: 8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him, we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:8-10, NIV) Everyone’s capacity under pressure is different. That’s why it’s important for us to be kind to ourselves and to one another, despite how frustrated we
become. It is crucial that we depend upon the sufficiency of the grace of God. Paul encourages us that God’s grace- His unmerited favor and Divine ability to do through us what we cannot on our own – will superimpose itself over the weaknesses we are willing to both admit and glory in, so that Christ’s power and ability can rest on us. We can choose to delight in our weaknesses and the hardships, persecutions, and distresses we face…because when we are weak…in Christ, we are strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10) Just like diamonds are really chunks of coal formed under pressure; God is allowing these trying circumstances to refine, shape, and mold us into something more beautiful and valuable.