When I squeeze my toothpaste tube, I naturally assume I’ll get toothpaste. The same holds true when I’m squeezing mustard or ketchup bottles, my hand lotion, my favorite make-up potions or cleaning products. If I thought I was getting toothpaste and I got Preparation H instead, the results could be disastrous. And if I were adding squirts of ketchup to my French fries but I ended up with horseradish, I’d have a disappointing, uneaten mess. It is important for the expected product to come out of the tube or bottle when we squeeze it. Are you with me?
So, what, I ask you, should come out when a Christian is squeezed? When stress, trials, pain, disappointment, heartbreak come into our lives and squeeze us from all sides, what should come out? I believe you’d all agree that Christ-likeness should come out in the form of the fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. But, what if the world sees Satan come out when we’re squeezed? What if words or actions that are OPPOSITE of those represented by the Spirit’s fruit are displayed loudly and harshly? How confusing that is. How damaging it is to the spread of Christianity and to the opportunity of attracting someone to the gospel and salvation.
My daddy was squeezed in his final months. He lost his beloved June very quickly and unexpectedly. He had his mind made up that he would be the one to go first, but that didn’t happen. My dad was getting weaker and weaker physically, so it was obvious that he couldn’t live alone. My brother, sister and I needed for him to be closer to us rather than 4-5 hours away, so we could give him the attention he was going to need. We found a beautiful, brand new facility, and he agreed to move. His house sold to the very first lookers, so we all saw that as a huge blessing and relief. But, after he moved, he was horribly unhappy. He missed his many friends from Troy, his church, his identity in that town. He was so very sad. Then, the bad diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) was discovered, and he knew he was facing many transfusions and chemo treatments to even HOPE to get any better. It was a triple punch in the gut, to be sure.
Dad told my brother, my sister and me how very unhappy he was. We saw him shed many tears. But, amazingly, he didn’t share his unhappiness with the new people he had just met — his neighbors on his hall, the servers in the dining room, the housekeeping personnel, the facility administrators, etc. In fact, the day we had to move him from his assisted living place to a nursing home, many of those employees came in to hug him and wish him well. One even told us that she called him her “gentle giant.” He never even flinched when needle after needle was stuck in his veins. When his condition became worse in the nursing home and he was being subjected to so many uncomfortable situations, he didn’t raise his voice, and when he was conscious, I kept hearing him say, “Thank you.” It was such a comfort to me that daddy didn’t change who I’d always known him to be.
Joseph was squeezed when he was put in prison after being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife.
Daniel was squeezed when he was thrown into the lions’ den because he knelt to pray to his God, rather than King Darius.
Paul was squeezed when he was beaten for preaching about Jesus.
All three men exhibited great faithfulness. What has come out when I’ve been squeezed? What will come out in the future? Now is the time to stay fortified with the Word of God.
James 1:2-3 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
James 1:12 “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
I first shared this post shortly after my daddy died in 2016, but I've been squeezed a little more than usual myself lately. I needed these reminders. Maybe you do, too.
Also, last Monday, January 27, was the 34th anniversary of my mother's death. I've been thinking about my parents a lot. Maybe you can relate.