The Still Small VoicePerspectives Through Pressure: When the Pressure is on
Chapter Seven, Part Four
When the Pressure is on . . .
I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. (Phil. 1:19)
In various places, Paul lists the horrendous persecutions he went through, many of them not even mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. As the devil roused intense storms against God’s foremost preacher, we know that he was beaten with rods on three occasions. Contemporary descriptions reveal this to have been a horrifying and life threatening ordeal. He was also shipwrecked on no fewer than three occasions, on one occasion spending a whole night and a day adrift in the ocean. A lesser man could so easily have said ‘enough is enough’ and refrained from setting out on any more perilous journeys.5
I remember hearing Billy Graham speaking in Oxford a day or two after he had fallen in the shower and broken some ribs. He confessed that like any sixty year old he would dearly like to play golf and put his feet up – but because he knew the unique calling that God had placed on his life he declared his firm intention to keep going – and so he did, for a further twenty years of remarkable front line service.
One evening, anarchists burst into the Town Hall, letting off fire alarms, cutting TV cables and shouting obscenities. The sense of evil was palpable – yet far more people responded to his gospel message that evening than any other. It is a comforting (and important) to remember that the Lord can still work when storms are raging and circumstances appear entirely unpromising. Even when evil does strike, the Lord can still bring good out of it.
Never forget the angels who strengthened Paul at his moment of extreme need, just as they ministered to Elijah and Jesus in situations that called for supernatural resources.6 God’s heavenly messengers have a vital role to play in serving us as we set out to accomplish the Lord’s assignments.
Given that most of us feel as though we are facing about as much pressure as we can handle, it may or may not help to realise that our plight barely registers on the Richter scale of suffering when set alongside what our brothers and sisters are going through in so many parts of the world.
Although most of us may not be experiencing physical persecution, many of us certainly do know what it is like to be judged, controlled and misrepresented. In the privacy of our hearts, we experience the temptation to play (endlessly!) the words and events that have caused us so much pain. Left unchecked, these far from still small voices risk achieving the devil’s objective by crushing our faith to the point where we are prepared to tone down the scale of our Christian service.
What is happening is that the devil is dangling a subliminal contract before our eyes: ‘If you will just stop troubling me, I will leave you alone!’ All this happens, of course, at an out of sight subconscious level, imposing enough pressure to make us want to give up, whilst doing all he can at the same time not to reveal his hand in causing it. Once we become wise to what is going on, the chances are that we will come out of our corner with weapons of faith blazing.
Don’t give in! Refuse the compromise! Don’t allow your spirit to become ‘stuck’ because of things that people have said or done. Forgive the parents, siblings, offspring, colleagues, employers, pastors and whoever else has caused you such distress!
For Reflection and Prayer
The great revivalist Finney once said, ‘Anything is possible, provided only that we are willing to forgive.’ By the way, it is all but impossible to resent someone you are praying for!
In Your name we bless those who have disturbed our peace and proved overprotective, under-imaginative or downright wrong in their counsel. We ask Your forgiveness for all the times that we have been just as unable to get inside someone else’s calling and have disturbed their peace.
We also ask You today to grant strength and wisdom to all who are in extreme need. Send Your angels to minister, and let the power of God be poured out in miraculous power, especially . . . . . . . . . and . . . . . . . . .
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
5 Frank Peretti’s novels are published by Crossway Books.
6 Hundreds of thousands of people have found the writings of Merlin Carruthers pivotal in developing an understanding of the power and Biblical rationale behind praising God at all times.
RECOGNISE HIS VOICE
EXPLORE HIS SILENCE
THE ART OF REFLECTION
THE POWER OF DISCERNMENT
Testing Words and discernment
Peace - the Umpire
From Ruach to The Rock: The Shetland Saga
The 'Brandle Factor'
When the Timing is out
By Many Strands
Fleeces and Decision Making
Doors Opening: Stay Inside!
Avoiding the Trammel Net
Checking our Track Record
Putting Things Right
When God fulfills His Promise by another Route