Greetings and good morning, brothers and sisters This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we seek to understand spiritual meaning of the stresses of life.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Spiritual Meaning of the Stresses of Life
Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew, Chapter 11, Verses 28 and 29
Brothers and sisters, in today’’s broadcast we share some further insights into the meaning of the spiritual value of the stresses of life. There are times when there is so much pressure upon us that we feel as if we are sitting on a powder keg that might go off at any moment. At such times we feel that we are overwhelmed by adversity. But Jesus says to our perplexed minds and souls, "in the world, you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world." Thus Jesus does not deliver us from the waters of adversity, but he goes through all of them with us and gives us the peace that passes all understanding. Of what value is Jesus going through trials and tribulations with us? Why not just deliver us from them, or better yet lead us around them? Why must we go through the trials and tribulations that cause us so much mental anguish and spiritual uncertainty? Why can’’t we avoid all the pain and suffering?
We live in an imperfect world, and we are imperfect. Thus we make wrong choices, which cause us to suffer both individually and collectively. Pain and suffering stimulates us to make better choices. Brothers and sisters, "pain and suffering are essential to progressive growth." We only learn wisdom by experiencing tribulation. Tribulation is the wakeup call to our ease-seeking souls.
Since pain and suffering, trials and tribulations, anxieties and sorrows are a part of the divine plan for inducing us to move from the animal nature to the divine nature, we should try to understand their necessary role in our growth and to cooperate with this aspect of the divine plan. We are growing imperfect creatures moving towards perfection, which means that we have to gain knowledge and wisdom by and through experience. Not only are we growing towards completion, but the environment in which we live is also moving towards completion. And in all of this growth, the laws of God do not change. They remain the same whether we are aware of them or not. The violation of these laws--either through ignorance or conscious rebellion--is responsible for pain and suffering and trials and tribulations we experience. As we violate these laws through our personal interactions with each other and within ourselves, we experience pain and suffering. Pain and suffering cause us to think, in thinking we gain knowledge and wisdom and move further along the progressive path of growth and development. We need to change the way we interact with the laws of God since they are not going to change. Like him, these laws are immutable.
In the process of acquiring knowledge and wisdom, we undergo character growth. And there is no way to acquire growth without wrestling with vicissitudes. There can be no strength of character without struggling with adversities. These things offer a direct continuous challenge: overcome them or die. And because of the potentials embodied within our souls, we overcome them and develop strong characters.
Thus we have pressure from without and within. And this is what creates the powder keg situation, the feeling that we are going to blow our top. But we know that there is an acceptable way of dealing with pressure. We can allow it to blow us and everything around us into smithereens or we can use the pressure in a controlled way to achieve something good. (For example, the space shuttle sits atop powerful rockets filled with fuel that could cause a tremendous explosion, but because of the way the pressure from this fuel is handled, it propels the space shuttle into orbit.) Great inner pressure is caused by fear as well as by unpleasant facts of an experience.
Associated with any unpleasant experience is the fear and fact of the experience. We don’’t need to experience the fear of the experience. The fear makes the experience far worse than what it actually is. It does this by putting the mind in a state that ignores reason and reduces the ability of the self to deal with the problem successfully. It even ignores the facts of the experience. If we remove the fear from the fact of experience, we will reduce the pressure considerably. And since the fear is the result of anticipating some loss, we can reduce or eliminate this fear by faith-realizing that nothing of spiritual value is ever lost. We can experience the love of the experience, which imparts the consciousness that nothing of spiritual value is lost; it brings peace and calmness to the mind and allows reason and wisdom to function. It allows us to see clearly.
When we faith-realize that nothing of spiritual value is lost, we are left with two factors to consider: those things, meanings, and values that have spiritual value and those that do not. What is the difference between them? That which has spiritual value is true, beautiful, and good.
But even so, we know that from our experience things, meanings and values that appear to have spiritual value disappear along with those that do not have value. (For example, the death of a loved one that we associate with having spiritual value disappears from our lives.) How do we explain this? Well, consider a material analogy that may help us to realize that nothing of spiritual value is lost.
If we have, say, two objects of the same size, one made of iron and the other made of wood, and we drop both of these objects into the sea, we will observe that initially both of them will sink. The wood will rise again to the surface, but the iron will not. Thus we see that even though things, meanings, and values that have spiritual value may appear to vanish from our minds, they always reappear.
The greatest aide to channeling the energy of all this pressure into productive channels is the Spirit of Truth. This is the Spirit of Jesus that encloses our souls and minds and guide us into the ways of truth, the goodness of spiritual values, and their beauty. This Spirit of Truth is the secret to allowing the pressures of the powder keg to stabilize us rather than fragment us. By seeking to know and execute the Father’’s will, we allow pressure to stabilize rather than fragment us. Ponder these words of encouragement and comfort: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name sake. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me. Thou perparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
This concludes today's message on the spiritual meaning of the stresses of life. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.