Call it preference or how I was raised, but I’m a glass jar girl. So, basically, as soon as I open a store bought container of something, the remaining amount gets transferred into a glass jar. This is beneficial in many ways, but also potentially problematic in the event that the remaining amount in the store’s container is slightly more than the room I have in my glass jar. (First world problems, maybe, but it’s a thing.)
While I can’t always fit it all, I have learned a few tricks: namely, air can take up a lot of space! We don’t often think about air as a space stealer, but when it’s mixed into things during the pouring process, it’s really quite a space hog! So, to kick the extra air out, I’ve learned to do things like pick up the jar and hit the bottom with the palm of my hand, watching with satisfaction as the contents settle down deeper into the jar. If it’s something like oats (my task this morning and the catalyst for this post), I’ll actually take my hand and push them down into the jar, which got me thinking…
The point of the pressure was so that I could fit more in. I wasn’t trying to damage the oats. It wasn’t my intention to make them uncomfortable. I was just trying to get the most I could into the jar.
Sometimes life can feel like oats in a jar. Our jar is being shaken and pushed and it can feel at times like we’re under crushing pressure. However, it may be worth asking ourselves what the point of the pressure is?
One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, which says,
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
We are the containers of God’s power… that’s a cool thought. But that fact doesn’t excuse us from life’s hardships. What it does guarantee is that at any moment we have access to more than enough power to sustain us. We will be pressed, and pressed hard – but we need not collapse beneath the pressure. There will be confusing things that happen, but it doesn’t have to lead us to despair. We will be persecuted, but we are never left to endure it alone. We may even fall down – but for the one whose identity is rooted in Christ, falling, even failure is not something that can destroy us. Instead, each of these circumstances merely makes more room for the all-surpassing power of God to fill us up!
The verse that immediately came to mind when I was contemplating this post is Luke 6:37-38. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
The concept represented here is that the way we interact with others is the way they will interact with us. When we judge others, we invite them to judge us. When shine the light on other’s faults, that same light illuminates ours. When we are gracious and offer forgiveness, people are more inclined to offer us the same. When we are generous with our time, money and resources, other see and respond in kind – even above and beyond.
Those are great verses, but actually, my take-home today is a little more simple. My encouragement to you is this: no one likes being pressed, few find delight in high-pressure situations – but sometimes the uncomfortable and even painful things in life are actually making room for God to bless you in greater quantities. Sometimes the shaking is actually sifting out the things you didn’t want to keep anyway! And in the shifting, we are never alone and never out of reach of the power of God.
So, are you feeling pressed? What is God making room in you for?