What to do in times of great pressure, testing, or trials?

I take great delight in particular lists from Scripture. There are two that are my favorite in times of pressure. I know that God wants to energize me in certain ways, and I need to connect with what He wants to do. This usually means I go over the fruit of the spirit and ask God what He wants to grow through me. The second list is found in Eph 6. I know that God is giving me the protection that I need to endure the trial, difficulty, or testing; I just need to look for His provision and put it into my life.  

What I do is I go right down the list knowing that God has provided each of these in my life under the pressured situation. I just have to put them on and take protection in them. The list that I use to remind myself is called in Scripture the Armor of God (Eph 6:10-18). We so often do not realize how practical and real these protections are and so we fail to put them on. 

God tells us that the armor of God that He gives us through the work of Christ are TRUTH, RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, FAITH, SALVATION, THE WORD OF GOD, PRAYER AND ALERTNESS. Let’s take each one of these and help you look for them and put them on.

TRUTH — When we are under pressure we can be susceptible to lies, rumors, manipulation and we must hang on to the truth. God is still God and in charge even though it may not feel like it. Christ is still the Savior and will save us. God will send people, Scripture, books and media into our life that is truth to combat the lies that will be coming at us.  We must pay attention to the truth and ignore or push through the lies. Jesus says that we shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free (John 8:31).

RIGHTEOUSNESS — God has provided the righteous sacrifice of Jesus Christ for each of us so that we are accepted by God and not condemned. We must individually accept Jesus as our Savior and our Lord so that this protection is present in our life. There is also the direction of God’s Spirit to do righteous things during times of great pressure and difficulty. We are all tempted to become selfish or lazy in some way, but God will always direct us to some loving thing, some right thing that if we do it will really ease the pressure or difficulty.

PEACE — We have the peace of God with us through the life and death of Jesus Christ.  We need to put that on and promote peace with others. One of the things that pressure does is that it makes us angry, selfish and isolating. God will show you how and who you need to be at peace with to endure the trial you are going through. Usually making peace comes in two steps: Stop making war and start making progress in peace towards a particular person. 

FAITH — We have put our faith in Jesus and pursue a relationship with Him. One of the things that God always does for us in the midst of pressure is to ask us to trust Him for some new thing, trust Him to explore some new opportunity or relationship. Some of you in this pressurized time will be prompted to move, to start a new career, to create a relationship with your kids that wasn’t there before. It will require trust in Him but it will protect us (Heb 11:6).

SALVATION —We should flee to Jesus when we are under pressure. But I have also found that God sends little practical ways of escape when the pressure gets to be at its greatest (1 Cor 10:13). God will have a friend interrupt you before you lose your cool. God will have a traffic jam to slow you down, so you won’t be in the accident. God will encourage you to talk with your friend or your boss and really let them know what is going on. You must take the way of escape when it arrives.  

THE WORD OF GOD — God leads us through His Word.  ust as He did with Jesus when He was under pressure from the Devil in Matt 4, God the Holy Spirit put Scripture on His mind that allowed Him to defeat the devil. God will put Scripture on your mind that you need to pay attention to in the times of pressure and difficulty. Every night I read and pray through Scripture letting God highlight ideas and verses that I need for the next day. So often during the next day God brings the verse to my mind and let’s me know now is the time to use the wisdom from this verse. 

PRAYER — We have the privilege of asking God for what we need and talking with Him about what we are going through. We need to pour out our hearts to God and ask Him for what we need and let Him know what we are feeling. I have seen God do miracles in answer to people’s prayer when they are under great pressure. God will answer not always through our most desired option but instead in the way we need to endure the pressure. Ask God to do great things and He will. I find that some many people don’t really pray; they just think about stuff and hope that God is over hearing their thoughts. Pray and interact with God as you would a very important person.  Ask Him and He will answer. (Matt 7:7)

ALERTNESS — Almost every time pressure and temptation from the devil is mentioned the idea of alertness is mentioned (1 Pet 5:8). God wants us to put on alertness and not pretend that things are not intense. There are two areas of alertness that God wants to have us put on from Him. One is alertness to where we have fallen or made a bad choice in the past. We are most susceptible in the areas that we have already failed. It may be anger, it could be alcohol, it could be affairs, it could be gossip, it could be greed or gluttony. Rather than hang on through the pressure we have turned to some false comfort, some false solution that covers over the real problem. Realize that the Devil will keep pushing on the areas that you have already failed in until you have reinforced that area and win. Be alert and win. The second area of alertness is that God often will ask us to do something new. I am amazed at how God constantly was giving Joshua and David in the Old Testament new strategies to handle the pressures they faced. They could not rely on the old things that worked to be the thing that would work in the new situations.  

When I am in pressure situations like we are all facing now and will face in the future in lots of different ways, I go through the list and ask God: Where is the truth I need to put on? What is the righteousness I need to do in this time? Who do I need to pursue peace with? What God directed risk do you want me to take during this time? What are the ways of escape you are providing for me in this difficulty? What verses are you trying to get me to pay attention to because I need to do them? What do I really need to ask you for and talk with you about so I don’t lose my mind in this pressure? Where do I need to be alert to past areas of weakness and new strategies I have never tried before?

God is alive and wants to protect you. He has given you all of these spiritual weapons to protect you from the pressure that wants to crush you or divert you into sin. Put all of these pieces on and you will see the difference.

-Dr. Gil Stieglitz, Bayside Pastor

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