There are going to be times when we feel hard pressed. I think it must be a matter of seasons. Seeds are planted, vines, trees, orchards are tended, fruit begins to appear and then ripen until it is time for harvest. That’s when things get mighty uncomfortable. That’s when it’s time to be used.
Whether we are ‘pressed’ to release the oil within or ‘crushed’ to produce a new wine, the process can leave us feeling perplexed and perhaps even persecuted. It is at that moment that we are tempted to squirm out of this place of enormous pressure and find relief. At times, it is not us ourselves in the hard place, but someone we love. It is at that moment that we are so tempted to rescue them and give them some relief.
But, the fact is, relief doesn’t produce in us a new anointing. Relief doesn’t release the fruits of the spirit. Relief doesn’t prepare us to be used to our fullest. Relief, in fact, slows the whole process down.
Honestly, it is my initial reaction to draw back when I am feeling hard pressed, to shield myself from possible pain, to avoid encounters that leave me feeling bruised. I struggle with facing conflict and complications. If it were up to me, I’d avoid them altogether.
I’m thankful it isn’t up to me. I want to be stretched and challenged and poured out as an offering unto The Lord. I could never achieve that comfortably remaining on the vine.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
(2 Corinthians 4:8, 9 NIV)
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. (Philippians 2:17 NIV)