Don’t Get Bent Out of Shape

August 3, 2016

A well-known CEO, Dean Becker of Adaptive Learning Systems said, “More than training, more than experience, more than education, the level of resilience in a person’s life will determine the degree of success he or she achieves. It works in the cancer ward. It works in the Olympics, and it works in the boardroom.”

I wholeheartedly agree—particularly concerning the life of a believer.

While the Bible doesn’t use the term “resilience,” the understanding of it is clearly in Scripture. James 1:12 states, “Blessed [empowered to prosper or increase] is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (NKJ).

The original Greek meaning of the word temptation means “a putting to proof by experience of adversity.” In other words, when you decide to believe the Word, the enemy will put it to proof. The moment you decide to believe that “by the stripes of Jesus, I am healed,” the enemy will make sure you have another symptom or two or three or four.

Of course, God is never behind that. In James 1:13, God clearly states, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (NKJ).

The enemy is the one who brings the adversity, the pressure, and the stress. The question is: How do you respond to it?

Act Like a Tennis Ball
The one key ingredient that will empower you to succeed in every trial is resilience. It is that enduring of temptation—adversity, pressure, and stress—that leads you to victory.

Resilience is “the capability of a body under compressive stress to regain its eyes and shape without deformation or rupture.”

In other words, it’s the ability to act like a tennis ball.

When a racquet whacks a tennis ball with enough pressure, it squashes the ball a bit out of shape. It momentarily deforms, but never ruptures. That’s because a tennis ball has resilience. It always regains its size and shape without deformation or rupture.

Is that what you do when the pressure is on? Or do you succumb to the pressure and get “bent out of shape?”

The level of resilience operating in your life is a major determining factor regarding how you weather the storms of life—and the ultimate level of success you achieve.

If you are resilient, the pressure of a difficult situation might alter the way you do something. It might compress things, tighten them up, or reshape your methodology for a little bit of time. But it never changes who you are, what your goals and objectives are, what your commitment to their achievement is, or your determination to pursue them.

To the degree you become a resilient person is to the degree you will not be downcast and oppressed when hard times come—and when they last.

Never Relieve the Pressure
Your life is the sum total of the decisions you make. The ultimate quality of your life is a reflection of how well you’ve done in the decision-making process. You are a free moral agent, and you either make the decisions God has directed or you make your own—and the end results are directly tied to your decisions.

Consequently, one of the greatest temptations believers faces is to relieve the pressure when it seems insurmountable—but you should never do that.

Now, I didn’t say avoid making decisions under pressure. No. You will always have to make decisions under pressure. That’s life.

What I said was, never make a decision designed to simply relieve the pressure. That is the greatest mistake you can ever make.

If you make a decision to relieve the pressure, you’ve just played into Satan’s hands. Why? Because pressure comes from the enemy.

This is the kind of decision that leads to divorce, bankruptcy, or quitting. It’s a pressure-relieving decision rather than a resilience-building one.

Change Your Perceptions
Some people are more resilient than others. Some people seem to be able to handle more pressure or stress than others. To secular psychologists, this is a mystery. But if you read the Word of God, it’s not a mystery at all.

Stress, by origin, is an engineering term. It refers to the amount of weight that a structure, such as a bridge, can accommodate.

Relationally, it refers to our ability to handle pressure. For example, just as a chair is designed to handle the stress of your weight, so you have been designed to handle whatever circumstantial stress the enemy can generate.

Therefore, you need to settle it now in your heart and mind that God will never allow you to suffer more than you can handle. First Corinthians 10:13 states: “No temptation [adversity, pressure or stress] has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation [adversity, pressure or stress] will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (NKJ).

So why is stress or pressure so hard to bear?

Because stress or pressure comes as a result of threat perception.

If you perceive a threat to your welfare—real or imagined—you respond to that perception, just the way God created you. God designed you to respond to any threat by preserving your life. It’s commonly called the “flight or fight syndrome.”

When you—or anyone—perceives a threat, physiological changes occur. Beginning in your pituitary gland, a hormonal message races through your blood stream to your adrenal glands and your adrenal cortex, which in turn generates cortisone and adrenaline. Consequently, your blood sugar increases for extra energy. Your muscles tense, your heart rate and blood pressure rise, your cholesterol rises, and glucose is sent to your muscles.
God created all of this to save you from impending danger in a threatening situation. But He didn’t create your body to live influenced by a constant response to perceived pressure.

So you have to learn to manage stress well. You have to learn to have resilience.

The enemy will do everything he can to keep you thinking about the pressure, to influence your perceptions… to ensure you perceive things his way instead of God’s way.

Build Up Your Resilience
When adversity comes, the enemy puts the pressure on. The original Greek meaning of adversity is “trouble, tribulation, persecution, burden, anguish or affliction”—and they all produce pressure.

Whenever you do what God has told you to do—start a church, change jobs, restructure the department, stay in your marriage—if you obey Him, the pressure will come. It may come as financial, relational, or time pressure. But rest assured, it will come.

That’s why 1 Peter 4:12 says not to think of it as strange when the trials come, but to endure. Enduring means “persisting without change.”

If you and I are going to persist without change when pressure comes, then we’re going to have to have the right perceptions. And right perceptions come from right believing.

You need to believe—without a doubt—that if you don’t make a decision to relieve the pressure, that God will take care of it, and you will be promoted to the next level in His plan for your life. You need to believe you’re capable of handling it.

Still talking about temptations, James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (NKJ).

Simply put, if you don’t quit, you win.

Patience is being consistently constant. It’s being unchanging—meaning you don’t change when the pressure is on. Counting it all joy is having cheerful endurance—and a cheerful countenance.

If you will do this, you will win. You will be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

You will come out the other side of the challenge, the test, the trial, more mature. If you have wrong “wants,” God will change them as you endure… and He’ll fulfill the right “wants” He gave you. That’s how you live wanting nothing in this life. That’s how you can minister, lead, and live from a place of uncommon strength.

When you endure adversity that comes, you put to proof what you believe. When you don’t yield to the pressure, you win. You come out the other side of the adversity perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

So decide to be a person of resilience. People of resilience can experience pressure without their objectives being reshaped, without their goals being downsized. They are people whose desire to achieve their objectives is always greater than their desire to escape the pressure.

Determine today that you resonate with resilience—just like a tennis ball. Regardless of the pressure that comes, there will be no deformation or rupture of your goals, of your purpose or your calling.

You will simply endure the pressure, never relieving it, so that you can experience the fullness of life God has for you. You won’t get bent out of shape!

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