“We are like common clay jars that carry a glorious treasure within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours.”
Never is it more clear that we are “treasures in jars of clay” than when the pressure is on!
Our desire to love dissipates as we are squeezed, it seems, almost unmercifully, and what spills out of us is not love or power at all but hatred, judgment, anger, or fear.
“Lord, I can’t take this anymore! I am so stressed. People don’t understand. I simply can’t continue doing life this way.”
This complaint was mine recently, as life itself seemed to strangle and choke me. Pressure and disappointments from family, a lack of time for the things I most needed to do, some boundary issues that needed confronting, and - for good measure - several troubling issues with our house all conspired to crush me.
The funny part? That was the week the Lord whispered to me: “Write about love.”
For a moment, I wondered if God had missed something. Perhaps He was slipping as eternity wore on? Because at that point in time, my attitude was far from loving!
Had I written to you that day, my post would have read like this:
“Dear Readers: I'm sorry, but I am currently fresh out of love, since everyday life has drained me of my supply. Please check in again next week for more inspiration from author Deborah Perkins!”
No, the truth is that I contain very little love at all unless God fills my vessel with it first! Like you, I am a “common clay jar,” an “earthen vessel” which is very delicate, easily broken, often empty and yet capable of much good when full of the Lord.
The trouble with being a clay jar is that the “molding” process feels like it's undoing us!
NOT STRESSED BUT PRESSED
In times of stress, God’s words in 2 Corinthians (below) comfort me: “Not stressed, but pressed,” He reminds. The pressure is meant to shape you, not destroy you. Molding in ministry means God plans to expand your capacity as His treasured vessel!
Pressing times release impurities within us, extracting all the unlovely attributes of our old nature so that God can fill us with His new nature, which is love. Here are more thoughts on this subject:
“Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option. We are persecuted by others but God has not forsaken us… We consider “living” to mean that we are constantly handed over to death for Jesus’ sake so that the life of Jesus will be revealed through our humanity.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-11)
“Why, God?” will always find its answer here. The reason we are hard pressed on every side, as I was, is so that His incredible love and power can be displayed through us!
I want that. Don’t you?
The reason why Jesus - and I - can count it all joy when we suffer trials of various kinds is that we know that we are being shaped into better vessels. Patient. Loving. Gentle. Wise. And most of all: Prayerful.
PRAYER IS WHERE YOU MUST GO UNDER PRESSURE!
There is a place where pressure becomes power. That place is prayer. Releasing all the anger, judgment, fear, and hatred into God’s hands allows Him to transform you into a much more loving person.
The places where I have experienced God’s love the most have often been places where prayer transformed pressure into something beautiful.
-When I needed healing, several believers invested countless hours of prayer into me, freeing me from years of intense pressure in my family of origin.
-When I was alone in a foreign country, reeling from my parents’ divorce, an unknown English-speaking couple invited me to dinner to talk - and pray. Those prayers alleviated the pressure so I could continue my studies.
-When I cried out to God, wondering if He was real and whether He still loved me, He answered with an unmistakable outpouring of His love, both practically and spiritually.
-When even my love for prayer became a burden, God introduced me to the Holy Spirit and reignited my prayer life.
-When I was a young mother with no job and no income, it was prayer that transformed years of financial trials into financial testimonies.
-When fellow believers doubted and criticized me, it was prayer that enabled me to continue loving them.
In short, these places of pressure have all become places of incredible power because of prayers that produced confidence in God’s love.
Dear friends, this is what God desires for you, too! Prayer is not a ritual Christians perform to keep God happy. It’s the way we build a personal relationship with God. It’s the way to bring supernatural change into “unchangeable” natural circumstances. It’s the way our pressure becomes our power.
Nothing the devil sends your way can defeat you when you bring it to God in prayer!
I love Psalm 18 for its focus on victory through prayer. David writes:
“I LOVE YOU, O LORD, MY STRENGTH!... I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies. The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of chaos overwhelmed me... In my distress I called upon the LORD and I cried to my God for help.
From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry for His help reached His ears. He reached from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy and from foes too mighty for me. They confronted me in my day of calamity, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into the open; He rescued me because He delighted in me… For in You I can charge an army, and with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”
When pressure threatens to undo you, remember that God has a purpose for that pressure. Let the pressure drive you to prayer, and prayer will release Gpd's power and love in you. Then you will be a "noble vessel," prepared for every good work God gives you to do!
"In a palace you find many kinds of containers and tableware for many different uses... Some are used for everyday use. But you...must not see your life and ministry this way. Your life and ministry must not be disgraced, for you are to be a pure container of Christ and dedicated to the honorable purposes of your Master, prepared for every good work that He gives you to do." (2 Timothy 2:20-21)
HOW CAN I PRAY FOR YOU?
His Inscriptions exists not just to inspire you to pray, but also to pray for you. Is there something you need prayer for today? Please contact me here so that we can agree together that God will transform your pressure into His power!
In His Love,
© Deborah Perkins / www.HisInscriptions.com. Photo credits: Shane Albuquerque, Oshin Khandelwal and Claire Ward of Unsplash.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.