Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
I remember my time at Alberta Institute of Technology working on a Civil Engineering Certificate. One of our classes was related to concrete design and testing. We would design concrete batches (mixes), pour that concrete into cylinder molds that were then placed under a hydraulic compression machine to test the strength of the concrete. We wanted to know how much that particular batch of concrete could endure. The tests were always done to the point of failure; in other words we allowed the hydraulic press to keep increasing the pressure until the concrete failed. Most of the time it simply imploded and crumbled into broken pieces. We had to determine how much pressure it could handle so that we could make adjustments to the proportion of aggregate, sand, and cement that went into the batch. You don’t want to build a building with concrete that could only handle 2500 psi when the building has been designed in such a manner that concrete needed to handle 3000 psi.
Unfortunately, we cannot run sample stress tests on everyone to determine at what point they will crack under pressure. I suspect that we do not even know ourselves well enough to know how we will hold up under certain kinds of stress. This is compounded exponentially when we face a barrage of monumental issues that each carry enormous amounts of stress as we are facing in our culture and church presently. We often have “delusions of grandeur” about how much pressure we think we can handle even when we have never been through those kinds of circumstances, ever!
2020 has been a grueling year for all of us. The ongoing weight and tension of dealing with so many issues – pandemic, Governor Restrictions, political elections, ethnic discrimination, losing one’s business or job, etc. has become a norm of everyday life. Unfortunately, this barrage of monumental stress can start leaving cracks in the heart-fibers of the most resilient person. This constant pressure is worse than some iterative irritation (like the proverbial dripping facet) driving one crazy. But we do have some resources that can help us deal with stress that feels crushing. This comes back to our relationship with Christ and drawing on His strength:
1. Being intentional in abiding in Christ – this may sound too obvious, but we need to take responsibility to deepen our own relationship with Christ seriously. Many Christians like the idea of relationship with Christ but do not work at it. They leave everything up to God and treat him like a concierge who is there to serve us, but do not have to treat him as their Lord and leader.
2. We need to develop an eternal mindset – we are not living for ourselves, but for him who died and rose on our behalf. The danger is that we become too addicted to the things of this life and the things of this life become a distraction to living for Christ. We cannot serve two masters because we will love one and hate the other. If we cling to the things of this life too hard, we will make compromises, usually for selfish reasons.
3. We need to learn to allow Christ to fulfill our deepest needs. You have heard the old adage, “people looking for love in all the wrong places”. Well, we often try and find our sense of value, significance, and security in all the wrong places. Ultimately God has created us in such a manner these can only be fulfilled and satisfied by the personal presence of Christ.
4. Allow others to encourage you and support you. God has called us out of the world and given us values and priorities that are very different than the world. Isolating ourselves from others because we want to prove we have the faith to handle it is a trap game. Satan loves it when we make ourselves more vulnerable. We need the fellowship and support of God’s family in ways that we didn’t even care about a few years ago. God is reminding us of how much we need community and to allow others to speak into our lives.
5. Live one day at a time. God rarely lays out the blueprint of all that is going to happen to us in a single day, much less a week or year. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matt. 6:34). He wants us to trust him and walk with him. If you and I get too absorbed with controlling our own destiny then we will have a life that is filled with uncertainty, anxiety, and frustration.
The key to all this – do not be weary in doing “right things” (good) for we will see the fruit of it….if we do not give up. Don’t give up, we are in this together.
Sincerely, Pastor Brad