Stress. It’s part of living. Has been since Adam and Eve stood over the lifeless body of their son, knowing their other son was the murderer.
Not long ago an author was doing the talk-show circuit promoting his latest book which was based on a startling new study that revealed a world-wide epidemic of stress.
You want to hear something shocking?
What do you do when you’re under a lot of stress? Most people pray for relief, right? But what if God responded, “I know you’re under a lot of stress lately. I’m the one causing it.”
That’s basically what God told Jeremiah when He sent the prophet to observe a potter (Jeremiah 18:1-6). In this object lesson, God said He was the potter, we’re the clay. And the Hebrew word used to describe what the potter does to the clay? Distress. The potter distresses the clay when he—
- pounds out the impurities;
- molds the clay into all manner of unnatural shapes the clay would never know if not for the potter;
- then, after all this distressing, he places the clay in the fire.
The result? The clay emerges as a suitable vessel for the Master’s use. Without the distress, the clay would forever be nothing more than a useless lump.
That’s the unpopular part of the lesson. The invaluable part is embracing it. As did—
Peter: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. (I Peter 4:12)
James: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Paul: …we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us… (Romans 5:3-5)
Be patient in failure,
Encouraged by setbacks;
It’s the struggle that makes us strong.