Earl Nightingale once told of a visit he made with his son to the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches nearly 1,800 miles from New Guinea to Australia. On the trip he noticed that the coral polyps on the inside of the reef, where the sea was peaceful and quiet in the lagoon, seemed pale and lifeless. On the other hand, the coral on the outside of the reef, beneath the surge of the tide and power of the waves, were bright and vibrant with color and flowing growth. Mr. Nightingale asked his guide why this was so.
“It’s very simple,” came the reply. “The coral on the lagoon side dies rapidly because it has no challenge for growth and survival. The coral facing the surge and power of the open sea thrives and multiplies because it is challenged and tested every day. And so it is with every living organism on earth.”
And so it is with us!
I wish I could tell you that because you are a Christian you are promised a stress-free, test-free life. But you and I both know that simply isn’t true. Christians have as much stress and pressure as anyone else. But like the coral, we have something built into our “faith DNA” that transforms us into something beautiful. We have the promise that those challenges and pressures will produce something good in our lives.
We also have a powerful Resource to enable us to handle that stress when it comes. In 2 Corinthians 4:8, Paul writes, “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed.” The word “afflicted” is a word which describes being under stress. Paul was experiencing non-stop, relentless stress, yet it is interesting to see his response. He was not crushed, because the pressure from the outside was met by the internal power of the Holy Spirit.
What do you do with stress? The answer is not to fight it. You don’t have to flee it or flow with it, either. The answer to stress is to face it with a greater power.
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
In the midst of the wear and tear and sufferings, Paul refused to be discouraged. As he became worn out physically, a counter-process was taking place at the same time. His inner being was being renewed with fresh infusions of strength from God.
“No wonder we don’t give up!” Paul exclaimed.
Whatever your battle, whatever kind of stress you face, you can be assured your heavenly Father knows it. He is not insensitive to your weakness, and He promises His grace to counteract the pressure. His provision is never used up, and He never gets tired.
Why do we not appropriate more from God when there is such ample provision?
Today I thought I would remind you what you may be too stressed out to notice: You are becoming more beautiful. The circumstances never – ever – have the final word in your life. At the end of the day, your life is being punctuated by the faith on which you stand and the Power that makes you brighter, more vibrant and flowing with growth every day.