Yes, you are pressed on every side. You feel crushed. Confused. Hurt. You struggle to trust yourself. You struggle to trust your good heart.
I have made you. I make what is good.
The conflict in you is your longing for more. A life of abundant joy. A life of abundant love. A life of abundant peace. A life of abundant hope.
Hope now, dear one. Hope now.
This is no small thing—hope.
Can you see me now, holding you? Can you feel me now—not just in your imagination, but here, now, wrapping my arms around you—your friend, your father, your brother, your king, the One who loves you, . . . what do you need me to be? Yes, your Constant. I am your Constant. I am your rock.
Lean against me now.
Son, daughter, lean.
This pressing, this crushing, as grapes are pressed into new wine, is temporary. And in the crushing, in the pressing, I am making something good. You cannot bear the weight of this pressure alone. And you are not meant to. You are not designed to.
Lean, daughter. Lean, son.
This world tells you you need to be strong, resilient, tough, unbreakable. It tells you to go, to be successful, productive; it tells you to move fast. But how then can you do all these things and, also, lean? How can you desire more and not feel weak, as you lean? How can you be made into new wine without letting yourself be broken open?
Watch me make you holy. Watch me help you lean.
Leaning is having faith. Leaning is saying you are not the strong one. Leaning is saying I am your constant, the one who holds you fast, while you break, while you are changing. Believe me. Believe.
Know that in the pain you feel now, the loneliness, the fear, the disappointment, the worry, I am here, holding you up. I am here, not moving. I am here, completely in love with you. I am here, asking you to believe in what you cannot see.
For I see. I see. I see ahead. I see you now.
There is good coming. I promise. I promise you.
Being pressed on all sides. Crushed. Overwhelmed. These aren’t just ideas. These are realities that we feel. That we live.
A marriage falling apart—lack of communication; distrust; wounds that feel impossible to heal.
A job lost—fear about making ends meet; discouragement; disappointment of unrealized dreams.
Sickness, addiction, loneliness, despair. We are being pressed. Persecuted. We’re tired and confused.
Yet, this isn’t all there is. For you. For me. “Believe me,” Holy Spirit says. “Believe.”
How do we believe in the promise that despite our circumstances, we are not stuck? Despite our suffering, we can experience hope? Hope that, despite our trials, good will come for us?
It can feel like the hardest thing to do in the midst of suffering: to have faith that things will be better, to believe there is good coming.
So, how do we do it?
Well, Holy Spirit invited us to lean into the One who is strong. To lean into the One is who constant, the One who holds us together, even when we feel we are breaking.
So, let’s practice doing that now. I invite you to get yourself comfortable. Stretch. Take a deep breath. We are going to consecrate our imaginations to God and ask Him to lead us into visualizing what this might look like, for each of us.
We’re going to experience some of His goodness, right now.
Father, I give you my imagination. I give you my mind, my thoughts. I consecrate them to you. You know my heart. You know my suffering. You know my disappointment. You know the trials I face. I want to trust you in them. I want to not feel alone. I want to believe that there is good here for me, in the midst of this hard thing.
And now, friend, I invite you to picture yourself in a wide-open space. You are dressed in comfortable clothes, hiking boots on your feet. And in front of you lies a large mountain. Notice its height. Is it filled with trees? With rock? What is the sky like? Feel the breeze on your face.
Jesus is near you. Do you see Him? You are both standing on a trail. And He points toward the mountain. Up the dirt path that leads up to the top, beyond what you can see.
You begin walking, Jesus at your side. What does the trail look like? Is the path clear? Or is it filled with broken rocks, with downed logs, with mud? What is Jesus doing as He walks next to you? What is his posture? What is his pace?
What is it like hiking with Jesus? Do you like him next to you? Do you trust him?
The trail is getting much steeper now, the hiking more difficult, and you’re getting weary. You can feel the altitude as your breathing deepens and quickens. You stumble, but Jesus catches you before you fall and places His arm under your arm and around your back, steadying you with His strength. So, you keep moving up, one foot in front of the other, Jesus helping you along.
Up until now, you’ve kept your eyes down, eyes on the trail in front of you, worried that if you didn’t you might trip on a root or a branch or roll your ankle on a rock. But Jesus points up and ahead, and you look up. You see light at the top of the mountain—the light shining from the other side of the mountain.
You’ve had your eyes down for so long, your gaze focused on your next step, you hadn’t looked at what was ahead. You didn’t see the glow of the sky beyond the silhouette of the summit.
It’s beautiful. You stop for a moment to catch your breath and take in what you see.
What hope does that glow represent, for you?
It’s hard to get moving again. It feels good to stop and rest. It would feel good to stop here for good. But Jesus invites you forward. You can make it, He says. We can make it together. And He promises, I’ll be with you the whole way, forever. Just look at the light, He says. Keep your eyes focused ahead. Keep you mind focused on hope.
What will you do? Will you stay here, right where you are? Because there is still a long way to go, to reach the summit, let alone to get over this mountain. And you know it’s steep and treacherous ahead.
Or will you keep going?
Jesus encourages you. I am with you, He says. Keep your eyes ahead. Let’s go a bit further now. This suffering will not last forever. It will not last much longer. And then, when we get to the other side of the mountain, My Father, your Father, will restore you. Remember, He says, what my good friend, Peter, wrote: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
So, lean on Me now, He says. Lean on me, and let’s go a bit further. And don’t forget that light on the other side of the mountain.