Recently I was studying Haggai and the Lord suddenly stopped me in chapter 2 verse 4. It states,
Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.
As I continued reading, I just kept coming back to these verses, so I started to rewrite the verses into my own words to make sure I truly understood what each word said and what exactly God was trying to teach me.
Be able to withstand great force or pressure, proclaims the Lord. Work, labor, exert to produce something at a later time, for I am with you, the Lord said in a solemn and emphatic manner, My Spirit continues in the same state with you in your midst. Fear, dismay, dread, apprehension, fright, panic, concern NOT.
Something crazy happens when I start defining and rewriting words. Suddenly, the Lord isn’t just saying be strong and push through life. He is saying continue in this path I have you on and don’t just continue in it, be so in the Lord’s presence that I can withstand great pressure. Great pressure.
Lately I’ve often felt that “great pressure” but I’ve not equated it with being strong. I’ve felt this pressure to act a certain way, be a certain type of friend, run a certain type of ministry, and this morning, the Lord opened my eyes to the connection to when He tells me to “be strong”, He is saying “withstand that great pressure”.
And then the verse goes on to say that in the midst of that great pressure continue to exert forth effort and do what God has called you to do so that something will be produced at a later time. Don’t just withstand great force and stand there. Be strong and work for a future benefit.
But God doesn’t stop there, He goes on to point out that the only reason you can withstand great pressure and exert effort to produce what He desire for you is because He is with you and His Spirit will continue to be among you always.
Knowing His Spirit is among you and with you and in your midst results in the final action that says not to fear, be dismayed, scared, or panic.
This whole section is wrecking me. The “great pressure” that I was worried was telling me I was doing something wrong, that I’m not good enough, that I’m a bad friend, that I need to change, can really just be the ‘great pressure” I need to endure in order to complete what God has called me to do. I tend to view the “great pressure” as a sign I’m doing something wrong. The poor me attitude comes on, and I start to think about everywhere that I’m failing my family, my friends, myself, and my church. Instead of pushing through that “great pressure”, I start to allow it to consume me.
God is calling me to something more. His word clearly states to exert effort and continue to do what God calls you to do even when life around you isn’t supporting or encouraging you. Continue to learn to rely on the Spirit to push you forward and help you do this and fear will disappear.
I don’t know about you, but for me there are times in life where it is easy to endure and push forward, and then there are times where all you hear is negative opinions or hurtful comments or life seems to be crumbling around you, and its easy to doubt you’re doing what God has called you to do. When you stop walking forward, relying on the Spirit, and exerting effort to push through the great pressure, a funny thing happens…fear starts to settle in. Fear of opinions, fear of making the wrong decisions, fear of a lot of things.
But open up the Bible and God practically screams at us to push, to exert effort, to run forward, and to allow the Spirit to lead us. He reminds us to obey what He has asked of us and to continue on because His Spirit is with us always.
And that TRUTH gives us the courage to “BE STRONG” and “FEAR NOT”.