Summary: The pressures of life should complel us to praise God with more passion.
Have you ever been under pressure? I mean, real pressure. The type that makes you sweats and keeps you up at night. I have a friend who used to be a vice-principal of an elementary school. His boss was a 50 something year old single woman with a Napoleon complex. This brother was so stressed out at work that one day he had an anxiety attack and had to be rushed to the ER. When I was at Princeton seminary the pressure was so intense I develop a heart condition.
There are many people who are walking around with heart conditions because of the pressure they have to deal with. These persons cannot enjoy their family and friends because of the pressure. They cannot have effective and meaningful relationships because of the pressure. They cannot be fully engaged in church affairs because of the pressure. They cannot enjoy their God-given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because of the pressure they experience.
Pressure has caused a lot of individuals to commit suicide. It has led to a lot of divorces. A lot of pastors have quit the ministry because of the pressure. Intrinsic pressure is parts and parcel of our nature as human beings. And it doesn’t help that we live in a very fast paced, fast food, instant gratification, and what’s next society. As a matter of fact, more and more people are becoming depressed due to social pressures like, pressure to get married, pressure to be rich, pressure to be the best, pressure to have the latest and the finest, etc. Pressure at school, pressure in the home, pressure at work, pressure to pay bills, pressure, pressure, and pressure.
With all this pressure that some of us are dealing with, it is no wonder why there is road rage, spousal abuse, gang violence, etc. And since we can’t avoid the pressures of life anyway, I’ve come up with a way to make the best out of our pressures: turn them into praise. What do I mean by that? Well, when the first week of the month comes and the pressure for paying those bills are choking you, take all that pent up energy and all that pressure and praise God for the breakthrough that will come. When you are facing deadlines at work and the pressure is on, turn around and give a shout of praise.
Listen to me, the greater your pressure, the greater your praise. The more stress you have, the more energy you need to release. The more trouble you are facing, the more you need to cry out to God.
If your situation is ever going to change you have to learn to turn your pressure into praise. If your midnight is to ever turn into day, you have to learn to turn your pressure into praise. If your mourning is to ever turn into morning, you have to learn to turn your pressure into praise. The more uncontrollable your pressure, the more radical your praise ought to be. When the pressure is so intense and you feel like you are losing your mind, go way down deep into the inner recesses of your soul and praise as if you just lost your mind.
Setting the Stage
In our text this morning the apostle Paul is recounting his hardships to the church at Corinth. In it Paul talks about the great pressure he suffered in the province of Asia, “far beyond [his] ability to endure, so that he despaired even to life. It is interesting that Paul would say that he despaired even to life because in 2 Cor. 4:8 he proclaims: “We are pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.” So which is it Paul? Are you in despair or not? Well, obviously Paul’s situation did not change, but his outlook did. Indeed, by the time we get to the 4th chapter of this letter, Paul had learned how to turn his pressure into praise.
There are three things that we need to know about turning our pressures into praise.
1. We must look to God in the midst of the pressure
That’s what Daniel did in the lion’s den and the 3 Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace
That’s what the Israelites did when they were faced with the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh’s army in their back.
2. We must give glory every day for everything
Some pressures are designed to keep us holy
Pressures keep us on our knees
The greater the pressure the greater the breakthrough
3. We must use our praise as a release valve to let off the steam of pressure that has been building up in our lives.
Throughout the book of Psalms, God’s people are exhorted to shout to the Lord. When the children of Israel marched around Jericho they were told to shout to the Lord on the 7th time, and then the wall came crumbling down.