Under pressure? Feeling squeezed?
Do you like it?
Pressure. Squeezed. Pressed. In the vice. However you describe it, I hate it.
So how about we just eliminate it?
No more pressure. Badda boom. Badda bing. It’s gone.
While waving my mental magic wand, I thought about what life would look like without pressure. To not be squeezed would be refreshing. Yet if all pressure was truly gone, life wouldn’t be as we know it. In the immediate moment, I wouldn’t be writing this column on a computer. Because the plastics in my laptop had to be melted down and squeezed through an injection mold. If you knew how bad my handwriting is, you’d know how thankful to be for my typing.
In fact, everything we deem functional, useful, or otherwise serving a valuable or needed purpose has undergone some form of pressure that result in their usefulness.
If it’s made of wood it’s been sawed, carved, routed, sanded, grooved, planed, pressure treated, or cured to achieve it’s intended purpose. Metal is heated, molten and poured. And those favorite denim jeans you wear didn’t grow that way on the cotton plant. Cloth has to be woven, dyed, cut, and stitched before it becomes clothing.
Muscle grows when it is stressed to the point of being torn at the cellular level. When amino acids and proteins repair the tear, it builds back bigger than it was before. The ache you feel the day after a workout is proof that you’ve put your body under pressure.
In God’s creation, at the most basic cellular level, pressure is the norm. Have you ever wondered how a tree is as green at the top as it is at the bottom? Especially with no pump to get the water from the roots to the leaves? It’s called “turgor pressure”. It involves the adhesion and cohesion of water molecules and the building up of pressure within the individual cell wall. Water travels up the xylem tubes in the tree through this pressure. That the top of the tree is as healthy as the bottom assumes unbelievable constant pressure that causes water to flow to the top. Increase the diameter of the tree and the pressure required to keep the plant healthy increases. Imagine the turgor pressure within a Redwood that’s 35 feet in diameter and 300 feet tall.
Without turgor pressure, the tree dies. Growth requires pressure. And greater growth means increased pressure. The hard truth my comfort seeking self doesn’t want to hear but can’t avoid is that I can’t grow as a person or a Christ follower without pressure. You and I can’t have a cutting edge faith without enduring trials. No missionary returns from the field with exciting testimonies of comfortable circumstances. Without pressure, there’s no growth.
In Romans 5:3, Paul says, “we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance”. The Greek word Paul uses for “sufferings” is “thlipsis”. It means “a squeezing pressure”. Paul knew a thing or two about being squeezed. Shipwrecked, beat up, imprisoned, falsely accused and put on trial, Paul was familiar with pressure. Yet he says that this squeezing pressure produces endurance. In describing this endurance, Paul chose to use the word “hupomone”. It’s an endurance that actively seeks to overcome the trials of life. In Paul’s life the squeezing pressure produced an endurance of character that was able to say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Pressure. You hate it. I hate it. But it’s how we grow. And if our aspirations are to grow taller in life and character and effectiveness then it requires even more pressure.
The good news is that if God can grow a tree, He can grow us, too. Whatever “squeezing pressure” you’re experiencing, remember it’s part of God’s plan to make you more of who He desires you to be.
And while you’re remembering that for you, maybe drop me a note and remind me of the same truth.
We’re all in this together.
Todd A. Thompson – September 29, 2011