Connect Lesson #60: Your Best Under Pressure Pt. 1 by Jeremias Alicea
Scripture References: 1 Corinthians 13:11, John 16:33, Psalm 46:1, Matthew 11:28, and Romans 12:2
Overview (5-7 Minutes)
Pressure. How many find this issue to be seemingly more and more prevalent today? It’s probably safe to say that society has done a fantastic job of making people feel tremendous amounts of pressure for one reason or another and it’s certainly irrespective of age. In fact, it’s been said that the pressure an average teenager faces today is the equivalent of what a grown man in his 50’s would have to deal with in the 1950’s. Pressure to conform to societal standards has reached a high we haven’t seen in decades. The saying, “having the weight of the world on our shoulders” is not hyperbole when it comes to this world as a “system”. There is a real pressure for us to conform to its pattern. This pressure has caused people to feel like they have to be someone they’re not. People are feeling pressure to compromise their beliefs. Their peers, employers, and even government officials have a way of pressuring people to meet certain societal demands. But pressure doesn’t always have to be seen as negative. In fact, one way or another, we’re all going to find ourselves in pressured situations because that’s just the way of the world. The question is, how will we respond? As children, most of us are cared for by our parents. They house, feed, and clothe us. They educate us as best as they can, but then a time comes for us to grow and get out on our own. If we get too coddled and comfortable in our childish dependability, we may not be able to progress in the real world.
Discussion Questions (15-20 Minutes)
Q#1: Can pressure be both positive and negative? How can pressure actually benefit us?
Q#2: Have you ever felt pressured to conform to certain things as an adult? How did you handle it?
So, as adults, growth and maturity are going to require some sort of pressure in order to survive and thrive. On the spiritual side of things, we have the hope that our heavenly Father will give us guidance, but there’s still a maturity that needs to develop within us. There may be moments where God will allow certain pressures in life so that we can grow spiritually. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:11: When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. At some point, spiritually and in the natural, we’ll have to grow up and face pressure from trouble in our lives. Jesus Himself said in John 16:33: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” So while we will have pressures in this world, we know that there is someone we can lean on in times of trouble. In fact, He’s an “ever present help” (Psalm 46:1). When we are spiritually or emotionally wounded, we can bleed all over people who have nothing to do with how we were hurt. Hurting people hurt people, and if we have the wisdom to discern that, we don’t have to allow those who say or do hurtful things to us to cut so deep that we bleed on others. Think of it this way: What are we told to do if someone gets a deep physical wound that starts to bleed profusely? You’ve got to apply pressure. The same is true for an emotional wound. When you show love to those who are broken, you’re applying pressure on the wound. You’re easing the hurt and in doing so you’re actually relieving the pressure they're feeling in natural. The world and even religion has a way of putting a burden on us that’s hard and can be hurtful. But Jesus says, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light”. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Sometimes, the only pressure we need is the pressure of a strong hug from a loved one in moments like these.
Pressure is part of the refining process. The forming of a pearl, the cocooning of a caterpillar, or even the process coal undergoes to form a diamond will require heat, pressure, and time. Will pressure cause you to fold or will it motivate you? Sometimes pressure needs to be applied. Sometimes it needs to be relieved. Sometimes it’s relieved while being applied. Pressure and patience have a way of refining us. It brings a perfecting into our lives according to James. There’s pressure that will try to conform you and there’s pressure that can transform you (Romans 12:2). God will not pressure you to do anything against your will, but if you’re asking Him to work within you and your heart’s desire is to please Him, He will allow circumstances to help you grow, and with it will come a little pressure. It’s His way of getting all the “me” out of us. Don’t fold under it. Embrace it. “Press” toward the mark...