Often we, as grown ups, will say, “I am so stressed!” One day my kids inquisitively asked, “What does it mean to be stressed?” I stopped in my tracks and thought what an amazing concept.
My kids did not understand stress because they really have not experienced it, or did not label it as stress. As I began to try to explain, my mind was simply baffled. I knew what stress was and how it made me feel, but irritatingly enough, I could not seem to give an adequate definition. Tuesday at Libertas, we were doing a science experiment on Laws of Gas. I know you are getting excited already just thinking about physical science. The experiment called for two miniature marshmallows to be placed in a 20ml syringe. One finger was held over the opening of the syringe while the plunger was pushed down firmly. This was exerting extreme pressure on the marshmallows. On observation, they had gone from light and fluffy to flat and stiff. The science experiment was representing what happens when pressure is applied to a closed system. When you removed your finger off the nozzle and applied the same pressure, nothing changed with the marshmallows.
As we taught the experiment, I realized the answer to my kids’ question. I am sometimes operating in a closed system, which I was never meant to do. In a closed system, the pressure has nowhere to go but onto the object in its path. However, in an open system, the pressure could simply flow outward. My kids have never really experienced stress because they trust Chad and I will protect, guide, and meet their needs. We have never given them a reason to doubt we would do otherwise, so when they feel uneasy they simply look to us. So why do we experience stress? Is our heavenly Father not also there for us, as I am there for my children? Does He not promise to provide for all my needs? The answer is YES! YES! A hundred times YES! The reason we are stressed at times is not because He will not supply our needs, but because we fail to trust Him to do so. We do not allow our concerns and worries to flow right through to our Father. Instead we keep it bottled up and eventually, just as the marshmallows, the pressure levels us. Jesus came that he might bear our burden. Mathew 11:30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light”
Just like the marshmallows were shrinking under the weight of the pressure, so does our human bodies and spirits under pressure when facing life alone. Jesus wants us to hand those pressures over to Him and allow Him to work in our life.
The astonishing part of the experiment was when the plunger was pulled back to the top of the syringe. What do you think happened? The pressure was still there, but because there was room between the plunger and the marshmallows; they not only returned to their normal size, but also began to expand. Jesus wants us to hand our burdens over to Him so He can bear the load. He, many times, takes a horrific situation and brings glory and honor to His name. Sometimes He allows the pressure to grow and mature our faith. Often times, He may have simply needed our attention back on Him. 2 Corinthians 4: 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies…………..16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
There are two parts to this verse that I love. One is that we will definitely feel the pressure in life, but if we are allowing the Lord to strengthen us, we will not be crushed. Jesus never suggested that our lives would be filled with all roses and honey. In fact, Jesus states several times in scriptures, “When trials come…” However, we can take great relief in the fact that Jesus will help us bear the pain of this life. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” Although our burdens on this earth do not feel momentary or light at times, He is reminding us, compared to the goodness that is to come, it will not be forever. I think of our friend that lost her daughter this past year. Nothing about her death was light or momentary, but how thankful am I that she is waiting for them in all her splendor in heaven! We can’t feel it here on earth, but one day, yes one day, every tear will be wiped away and the full glory of God revealed.
So until the day that God dries all our tears, remember we were never meant to be in a closed system bearing all the pressures of life ourselves. We were meant to be in an open system where the pressure flows freely onto the one who is able!
May God bring you peace that passes all understanding in whatever you may be facing today!