MISHANDING LIFE'S PRESSURES
Another great stumbling-block that draws many back into their past destructive behavior and habits is when a person mishandles the pressures of life. The trials and pressures of daily life are a formidable foe to anyone, including a Christian. However, it is a lie to believe that going back to your addictive behavior will solve any of your problems. In fact, the problems are only compounded when a person uses drugs, alcohol, or food as an escape from the daily pressures of life. The great temptation is to turn back to these old ways when the pressure comes. A person thinks, This is the easier way to go to get a little relief from the pressure. In reality, it is the harder way to go.
I. Why do you make life harder when you go back to your addictive behavior?
A. When you turn back to your old behaviors you are transgressing against God’s law. God has told us many ways that this will always be the harder way to go (Prov. 13:15).
B. It is always harder to fight the conviction of God's Spirit than to fight the pressures, trials, and temptations of life (Acts 9:5). What happens to a person that refuses God’s conviction and correction? They become hard inside. Jeremiah recounts to God what had happened to the Jews because of their rebellion: “O Lord, are not Your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; you have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return” (Jer. 5:3).
C. As you surrender to your old bondage it will always be harder because your addictive behavior will ultimately bring you back under its total control again. Sin is possessive and progressive in its desire to reign and dominate your life (Rom. 6:12). It is your choice not to let sin reign over you.
D. Yielding to the Lord and following Him is easier than any other way. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). The word easy means it is gracious, kind, or benevolent. The word for burden means a light load.
II. The key
It's not what happens in your life that drives you back to your old behaviors, it is how you respond to the pressures of life that makes the difference. The choices you make, the attitude you have, and the actions you take will either build or destroy your life. Meet the problem God's way - not your way. Meet the pressures you encounter in His strength - not in your own strength. Will you look to Jesus the author and finisher of your faith or will you look to yourself (Heb. 12:2) (Titus 2:13) (2 Cor. 4:18)?
III. What are the ways God will help you meet the pressures of life?
A. First, you must not believe that you have been specially picked out to suffer pressure and trials. Peter said, "don't think it strange concerning the fiery trial which has come to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you" (1 Peter 5:9). He goes on to say, "These same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (1 Peter 5:9). In other words, you aren’t the only one who is suffering in this world. Jesus promised that anyone living in this world would experience tribulation, but in Him you will have peace (John 16:33). Remember, Paul said, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13). Therefore, will you trust Him to be faithful in your life to get you through your struggles?
B. You must go to Him. The key to handling life pressures and trials God's way to go to Jesus and allow Him to give you His peace. Jesus said, "These things I have spoken unto you that in Me you might have peace" (John 16:33). Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Coming to the Lord is a simple concept, but it will have dramatic effect upon your life as you obey this command.
1. Go to Him through the word He has spoken. In the Scriptures you will find encouragement, the promises of God, and the example of Christ and the apostles to follow. By believing God’s Word and obeying it God’s peace will be the result. David declared: “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps. 119:165).
2. Go to Him in prayer. When Jesus was in the garden and in agony from the pressure of the impending cross and demonic attack, "He prayed more earnestly" (Luke 22:44). In prayer, you can ask for and receive the strength of God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you" (John 14:18). To go to Him in prayer is the choice you have with each trial or pressure. You will either go to Him and seek His strength and direction or you will try to handle the pressure yourself. It is your choice.
C. You must resist.
- You must resist the temptation to compromise your beliefs under pressure and go back to your addictive behavior. Paul explained this choice: “Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom. 6:13). Note that the choice is present yourself to God that His power may strengthen you.
- You must resist your feelings and desires that are drawing you back to your old habits. This is where you need to control your anger, guilt feelings, and depressed feeling. Surrender to Him.
- You must resist your thoughts to give up and give in. God said of a trusting man: "He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord" (Ps. 112:7). Trust Him!
- You must resist your old friends or family members that are pressuring you to go back to your old lifestyle. Solomon warned his son: “If they say, "Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit; we shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse"-- My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path” (Prov. 1:11-15).
- You must resist Satan and the lies he uses in all of these areas (1 Peter 5:7-9). You can only resist this demonic pressure successfully by putting on the whole armor of God; only then will you be able to stand against all the pressures of hell that are coming against you (Eph. 6:10-18).
D. Last, you need endurance. Paul taught that the only way to run the race of life is to run with endurance (Heb. 12:1). Endurance is an inner strength and commitment to finish the course that is set before you. This attitude of the heart comes as a result and fruit of the Holy Spirit controlling your heart (Gal. 5:22). This word long-suffering describes a fortitude and patience that you need. The only way to experience this patience is by going to Him and looking to Him for help and strength. If you do, He will give you the endurance you need. When you make Him your “refuge and fortress” as David did then you will experience the endurance that will sustain you (Ps. 91:1-6). David also encouraged, "Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you" (Ps 55:22).