“For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8, 9.
“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I confidently trust.” Psalm 91:2.
“Then shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your dwelling. For He shall give His angels especial charge over you, to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:10-11.
“It’s easy to trust God when things are going well, but we must believe in Him in all times — good or bad. He will be there for us through it all.” Psalm 62:8.
Have you experienced a time in your life in which you felt the weight of the world was upon your shoulders? I’m sure you have. Perhaps you feel that way right now, today. There are many things we can do to reduce the pressure in our lives, even our daily scheduled lives. Especially with the enemy — the “prince of the power of the air” adding to our stress hourly regarding current events and the future. I pray this word will help and encourage you.
Listen in on a recent day of mine…
“Sweetheart, I have to drive to Fairbanks in the morning and it’s supposed to be more than 40 degrees below zero again. That’s going to be such a drag! I really wish it would warm up a little — it would make the day a whole lot easier for me.” It was only seconds before I felt the gentle tug of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know about you, but sometimes the Lord speaks to me with a hint of humor. Scripture tells us He does indeed experience feelings of all types, including humor — howbeit not always in a holy and appropriate manner.
I heard the Lord say, “Were you wanting to add a little more tension and difficulty to your day, daughter?” It stopped me in my tracks. “What Lord? No way. What do you mean?” He reminded me of the power and weight of my words, and that my words and my attitude were creative. I had just prophesied a big heavy “drag” over my trip. You may be thinking, “Oh that’s ridiculous…it’s just a figure of speech.” I beg to differ. Let me explain why all our words are so important.
Matthew 12:36, 37 says, “I say unto you, that every idle word that you shall speak, you shall give ac-count for it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words shall you be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”
Have you ever been fishing? If you have, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Just in case you have never been fishing, I’ll give you my basic understanding of what one small element of your fishing line, a drag, accomplishes in the art of fishing and how it relates to what I had so glibly spoken into my day.
The drag on a fishing rod is the resistance the reel creates against the pull of the fish. Just as the drag I spoke into my day; this drag literally creates additional tension, expends more strength, and adds more pull and fight to the task at hand. I even took the time to look up the word drag in the dictionary. It revealed the following. “1. To pull or move something with great difficultly; to slow your task down due to added weight. 2. To pull something down on the ground due to weight and heaviness. 3. Anything that holds back; obstructs; or hinders: (example): your thoughts can be a drag and obstruct what you are about to do.”
What an eye-opener. I knew God was using this as a teaching moment for me regarding my confession. The words that proceeded from my lips were about to create greater tension for me, zap my strength as with any negative mindset, and add additional difficulty to what were already challenging circumstances. And what do these words have to do with a negative attitude (stinkin’ thinkin’)? “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”
All of us have endured hardships at one time or another in our lives, and so did the Apostle Paul. There were seasons when Paul’s life was unbearable. He described those hardships in the opening scripture above. In this verse Paul describes his circumstances as being so hard that at times he, “despaired even of life itself.” The word “trouble” in 2 Cor. 1:7-9 comes from the Greek word “thlipsis.” A word defined in part as, “weighty; a heavy pressure situation; to bear down; to push or press to a breaking point.” In fact, at one point in history this word was used to depict “a victim who was first tied up with rope and laid on his back; then a huge heavy boulder was slowly lowered upon him until he was crushed.” By using this word, Paul was saying, “I was under a heavy load, an incredible amount of stress and pressure. I was in tight circumstances and my mind felt like it was being squeezed. In fact, it felt like my life was being pulled right out of me because of the tension, difficulty, and pressure upon me.”
When Paul stated that he, “despaired, even of life…” the Greek word for “despair” here is the word “exaporeomia,” a word which describes “no way out.” It’s where we get the word “exasperated,” and it describes people like you and me when we feel trapped, pinned down to the ground, or hopeless. Paul’s circumstances were such that he literally felt like he wasn’t going to be able to survive.
I don’t remember a time in my life when the nation has faced so many “Goliaths” at the same time. Our own President Trump declared a National Emergency. I’m convinced most people don’t have a clue what that means. If the President needed to freeze your assets, your savings and bank accounts — he could. Food shortages, stock market plummeting, medical shortages, empty grocery store shelves, schools closed, even churches closed. All major sports events — cancelled.
Do you recall the game people used to play in high school that was something akin to: “There are five people on an island; a teacher, a priest, a mother, a doctor, and a lawyer. Only four can live. Who dies?” It’s called “situational ethics.” Doctors in the USA today say they will have to decide who should live and who may die due to the immense shortage of ventilators, medicine, staff, and critical care beds in hospitals. This is truly frightening. But we have a choice. We can speak additional stress, pressure, unbelief, or drag into our circumstances—or we can allow Christ to minister hope through us if we remain willing, obedient, and available for His will and plan.
What will you say? Will your words line up in faith with what God is speaking, or will you be offering a few lines of “Christianese” while thinking, “Wow, how can I impart hope if I feel hopeless myself?” Maybe you still require grace each day to make sure the “words of your mouth and the meditations of your heart” actually line up with the plans Jesus has for you. Don’t continue producing additional drag, tension, or burdens on your own life or someone else’s. Remember, we will give account for every idle word.
Ruminate on that.
Next week: Part Two