by Rev Robert A. Wendel
“We want you to be aware of the affliction we received in Asia. We were so unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. We would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. We have set our hope (knowing) that he will rescue us again.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10 NRSV).
“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighted down with the worries of this life. Be alert at all times, praying that you will have the strength to escape all the things that will take place (until) you stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36 NRSV).
Webster’s Dictionary defines a pressure-cooker as “a special air-tight, hermetically sealed kettle-like pot used to prepare food quickly by using the pressure of steam.” If we refer to our life situation as “living in a pressure cooker”, we mean that we feel like we’re living under a great deal of pressure and stress.
Busyness puts us all under a note of urgency. When the pressure on you mounts, how do you decide which way to go, which priorities to devote more time and energy to accomplishing? Priorities can be age related, deadline sensitive, educationally demanding, vocationally required, family tied, financially compelling, socially imposed or health conditioned. The intensity of internal/emotional concern we feel depends on the tension between obligations and expectations welling up within us.
During the first three-fourths of his life, Saul of Tarsus became a well educated, respected Jewish rabbi and even a citizen of Rome. Then, between 33-36AD, he met the risen Christ and his priorities were completely reversed, making him a very strong spokesman and traveling missionary for the fledging Christian faith and its followers, to whom he wrote thirteen Epistles found in the New Testament.
For St. Paul, there were both high points and low times. As he wrote the first chapter of his second letter to the Church at Corinth “Be aware of the affliction we received in Asia.” (v.8) This ‘suffering’ may have been serious illness, physical persecution or unfair criticism. The apostle’s reaction was (1) To rely on God, and not himself; and (2) To gain count on the Lord’s rescue.
Jesus told his disciples “Don’t let your hearts be weighted down with the worries of this life.” (1) Pray that you will have the strength to escape all the things that will take place until (2) You stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36.) Life is understood backwards; but lived forward.