How we respond in difficult circumstances reveals what is in our heart.
Our youth camp counselor squeezed her homemade, cream-filled donuts expecting a delicious taste in her mouth only to discover the filling was replaced with white toothpaste by some of her campers. Her disappointment was obvious and understandable. The students were punished, but the delight of the donuts was ruined. Our counselor was expecting one thing and got something completely different.
We all get “squeezed” at one time or another and, if we are honest, sometimes we are surprised by what comes out of us. Have you ever been frustrated with a driver in front of you and spoke out in anger only to realize you had kids in the car with you? Or, have you been waiting in line to check out and someone gets in front of you as if you didn’t exist? You can feel your insides warming up and heat rising in your face. You react without thinking and then felt immediate regret. Your situation might be different, but the struggle is the same.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV
I will never forget the words of admonition from one of the few survivors of the Tenerife, Canary Islands plane crash which occurred on March 27, 1977. While speaking at our church, he shared that after the plane went down, the cabin erupted into flames and people were literally burning alive all around him. What struck him was that they were cursing God as they were dying. Then he said, “what is within you will most assuredly come out when you are in the squeeze of life.”
In his desperation, he cried out to God for mercy and all of a sudden, he saw an opening in the roof of the plane. He was able to assist a few others to get up and out of that opening and then with supernatural strength he leaped onto the back of the seat in front of him and propelled his own body through that opening onto the roof. He was able to slide down from the roof to the wing and then leap to the ground as the plane exploded into flames. He had no doubt that God miraculously saved his life for a divine purpose. Since then, he had been sharing his story around the country as invitations came. He was appreciative that God’s grace had spared his life, but he also encouraged each of us to examine our hearts to see what we had stored up inside that might be needed during a crisis situation. His closing remarks were, “for it will squeeze out” when you least expect it.
Our greatest encouragement today is that there were people in the Bible who have had similar struggles, and they show us how we can change our response and be a witness in the midst of crisis situations. Look at the Psalmist who began to doubt his creator and how he changed his thought process allowing God to work in his heart.
“And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.” Psalms 77:10-14 NLT
What we pour into our lives will be what comes out in the “squeeze.” If we focus our thoughts on the goodness of God, listing all He has done, we will speak forth praise and encouragement in our difficult moments. We can only become that person of faith when we abide and spend time with Christ. Those who have walked with God on a daily basis, will have the strength that only God can give when challenges come unexpectedly. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NLT
My mother’s health had declined to the extent that she needed round-the-clock care and supervision. My sisters and I decided that she needed an adult care facility as we could not provide the continuous assistance she required. However, my mother was very disturbed by the behavior of one of the workers, who often showed her irritation when trying to get the clients seated for meals. To our amazement, my mother devised a song that she used to make getting the clients into their seats more like a game and fun for all. She strategically gathered the clients earlier than necessary and sang to them while helping each of them find their assigned seats so that when the disgruntled staff person arrived, everyone was in their place. We learned of this from another staff person who had come to love and confide in my mother during her stay at that facility. She shared this precious story at my mother’s funeral, revealing that even in a most challenging season of my mother’s life, the love of Jesus was exhibited in a creative and impactful way. The following verse fits her life story well. “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day.” Psalm 46:5 NIV
To this day, my heart has been challenged that when I am in the “squeeze,” I want the love of Jesus to pour out on all who are around me. I want to be so filled with God’s Word, His truth, His love and His power, that in those difficult moments, He comes forth, not Ruth Puleo. I want to grab hold of this promise for my own life. “My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.” Psalm 49:3 NIV
Will you pray with me?
Lord, thank you that you use even weak, vulnerable and sinful people like me. Thank you that although you love me as I am, you love me too much to leave me as I am. Help me to take responsibility for my life and at the same time confidently trust in your sovereignty. Help me to fill up on your Word and allow you to penetrate my heart so that I can walk in your strength and in the moment of crisis, you will come forth in power through my life.