Surviving and Thriving Under Pressure!

Today, perhaps more than ever before, we feel under pressure.  The pandemic has left us feeling like a titanic weight is crushing us.  How do we survive? More important, how can we thrive under pressure?

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the United States government developed and deployed nuclear powered submarines.  The USS Thresher was one of these early vessels. Designed with steel bulkheads and heavy steel armor the Thresher could dive deep, and withstand the tremendous pressure of the ocean.

Unfortunately, on a test run in 1963, the Thresher’s nuclear engine failed, and it was unable to return to the surface. The submarine sank deeper and deeper into the ocean, and the pressure became so intense that the steel bulkheads buckled, crushing the Thresher with 129 people inside.

The Navy searched for the Thresher with a much stronger research craft, shaped like a steel ball, and lowered it into the ocean on a cable. When the Navy located the Thresher, at a depth of 8,400 feet, one and a half miles down, it was crushed like an egg shell. This was not a surprise to the search team, because the pressure at that depth is an amazing 3,600 pounds per square inch.

What was surprising to the searchers was the fish they saw at that depth. These fish did not have inches of steel to protect them. They appeared to have normal skin, a fraction of an inch thick. How were these fish able to survive under all that pressure? Why were they not crushed by the weight of the water? They had a secret. Their secret was equal pressure inside and outside. This equal pressurization made it possible for them to survive at great depths, and under great pressure.

When the pressure is on, the Holy Spirit is the “Great Equalizer!  One biblical writer put it this way, “The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)   Every believer has God’s Spirit living in them, empowering them, at the moment they trust Christ, and because of His presence we become “more than conquerors through Him that loves us.”  (Romans 8:37)

For those of us who follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit’s power within us makes it possible for us to withstand the pressures of life in this world, and gives us the ability, despite difficult circumstances, to be vibrant witnesses for Christ. Without the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives, we would have no hope, and would easily be crushed by the pressures of the world.

God wants more than just survival however.  He wants us to THRIVE under pressure.  Through the pressure of trials and adversity He brings about a transformation in our lives.  In short, we become more and more like His Son. (Romans 8:29)

Think about how the potter shapes clay on a potter’s wheel.   As the wheel spins, he uses his hands to exert pressure both inside and out.  It is the balance of this pressure that actually brings the clay into the exact shape and design the potter has in mind, and gives it the strength to go through the tempering fire. God never wastes an experience in our lives, but uses each one brings us closer to the divine design He has for us.

Sickness, loss of a job, death of a loved one, or any crisis can bring just the right pressure needed to shape us into the person He wants us to be. It is easy to allow the hurt of shattered dreams,  the pain of betrayal or the loss of something or someone precious to make us think all is lost.  The truth is, God’s story is larger than ours, and His eternal purpose greater than our temporary loss. (Romans 8:31-36)

We survive and thrive by remembering there’s bigger picture, a larger story, and God is not finished yet. These temporary setbacks are working out a greater plan, a plan we may to fully see right now.  But one day we will! (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

I pray your are both surviving and thriving under pressure!

Larry Doyle

Published by Larry Doyle

Dr. Larry Doyle served as the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association from September 1, 2003, to May 31, 2016. Since retiring from the Piedmont Baptist Association in 2016, Dr. Doyle has served as interim pastor and pulpit supply for several churches in the Piedmont Triad area. He served the Pinecroft Baptist Church from August 2018 to October 2020. His ministry began in the pastorate in Kentucky, his native state. He served as pastor of three churches while completing his undergraduate, graduate and post graduate degrees. (1968–1979) He and his wife Becky, a native of Greensboro, served as missionaries with the International Mission Board in Ecuador from 1980 to 1992. They returned to North Carolina where Larry pastored the Union Cross Hispanic Baptist Church in Kernersville from 1992 to 2000. In January 2001 he and Becky moved Honduras where they served as the On-site Coordinator for Disaster Relief with the North Carolina Baptist Men, coordinating volunteer teams in rebuilding houses and churches after the destruction of Hurricane Mitch. Upon returning from Honduras in January 2002, Larry served as the International Ministries Director for Baptist Metrolina Ministries in Charlotte, NC, a position he held until answering the call to become the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association in Greensboro, NC in September 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Kentucky University, and received a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Today Larry enjoys “Strengths Coaching” and mentoring pastors and church leaders. He also enjoys finding, refinishing and repurposing old, discarded furniture. Larry and Becky have two sons, Steve and Tim, and are the proud grandparents of five.

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