Survive the Pressures to Thrive in His Promises
In this series we have explored how whenever there’s a promise from God to take, it requires preparation to possess it. Preparation involves enduring pressure, but God gives us everything we need to survive it and to thrive in his promises. The promise is guaranteed—the only uncertain variable is our willingness to take possession of it because enduring the preparation comes with pressure.
This week we spoke about the pressure of the uncertainty during the lockdown season. One of the emotions associated with uncertainty is something psychologists call “ambiguous loss”.
“Ambiguous loss prompts an especially challenging kind of grief: It is confusing and disorienting and defies popular ideas about “closure”. There is no clear “end” to the current COVID-19 pandemic—and that’s part of what makes our emotional experience of this disease so taxing. Existing in the not-knowing of our current lives feels untenable and unsustainable.” – Psychology Today, May 2020.
The Israelites experienced this ambiguous loss between their deliverance from slavery and possession of the Promised Land. They would rather live with a sense of certainty as slaves, than move by faith through uncertainty towards freedom.
Feeling ambiguous loss in this season is part of our human experience, but what we do with that feeling is important.
- What emotions are you struggling with personally because of the uncertainty during lockdown?
It’s important that we are honest about our feelings because it’s part of owning our story. The Israelite’s wouldn’t own their feelings or decisions, so projected their problems onto Moses. If, like them, we don’t own our story our story will own us. With external circumstances we can’t control like Covid-19, we are still able to control our inner life —our thoughts, choices and priorities.
Romans.12:2 says that we are transformed by the renewal of our minds. For the Israelites, possessing the promise didn’t require transforming their circumstances, it required transforming themselves.
- What thoughts do you need to renew in your personal life during lockdown?
In Numbers 20 the Israelite’s had no water, so God told Moses to speak to a certain rock so that water would come out, but Moses disobeyed God by striking the rock that he should only have spoken to, because of his anger and frustration with the people. What should have been a season of preparation for the promise became a life sentence for Moses. Instead of making decisions driven by our feelings during lockdown, we should rather make them by faith and based on God’s word.
- What feelings are driving your decision making in this season of lockdown?
The Israelites prioritised comfort over Gods calling. Myles Munroe said: “Our life is the sum total of all the decisions we make every day, and those decisions are determined by our priorities.”
Prioritising God in this season of preparation gives us the ability to endure the process today so that we can thrive in the promise tomorrow.
2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)
“No matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
- What pressures during lockdown have made it difficult for you to prioritize God at the centre of your life?
- In what practical ways could you realign your priorities to put God first?
Pray back to God using these categories as a guide: thoughts, choices and priorities.
- Confess any unhealthy thoughts. Pray and align those thoughts with what you believe about God.
- Admit where you’ve been tempted to make decisions driven by your feelings instead of by faith. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you afresh, and to remind you of all you’ve learnt when those emotionally charged moments come.
- Acknowledge where things other than God have become your priority. Prepare some practical steps to take to put God first, then pray and tell God about your commitment to those steps.
As we look toward Gods promises in a season of pressure may we remember the words of Galatians 6:9 (TLB):
“And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don’t get discouraged and give up.”
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