THE PRESSURE OF ENVIRONMENT
Not only is there the pressure of sin and the pressure of need; there is also the pressure of environment. God wants the believers to go through pressure on earth so that they may lead a proper life. There are many adverse events that happen from time to time in a believer’s environment. Sometimes difficulties come from within the family. At other times they come from friends outside the family. Sometimes it is a business that has gone bankrupt. At other times one may suffer a loss in business, discrimination from colleagues, oppositions and misunderstandings from others, or financial difficulties. Why do these things happen? Many people do not realize the preciousness of the regenerated life they have received. Although they are saved and regenerated, they do not know the preciousness of the regenerated life. Only after they are pressed do they realize that the regenerated life, the new life they have received from God, is able to overcome all of the environment. Every pressure in the outside environment is for the purpose of proving the reality and power of the regenerated life. The Lord puts us in adverse circumstances in order to show us that we cannot stand without His life. The power of His life is manifested through outward pressure. If we encounter something which pierces us with heart-searing pains, causing us to weep silently with no way to comfort ourselves or get through the matter, and we trust in God at these times, we will experience complete victory. We will be amazed at the great power we have which enables us to overcome. This is because the outward pressure will cause us to spontaneously trust in God, which results in a demonstration of the reality of the power of His life. Of course, an unbeliever who does not have the regenerated life will not be able to go through this adverse environment; he will surely be pressed down by this outward pressure. But a Christian is a regenerated person, and within him there is a life which is stronger than the outward pressure. He knows that the times when he is pressed are the times when he overcomes. The pressure in the environment only manifests the regenerated life within him.
I once read an English tract entitled, "Be a Gas Engine." It told the story of a particular man in the city of Pittsburgh in the United States. There, everyone was using gas lamps. The owner of the gas factory was a Christian. One time he ran into much adversity. His customers frequently wrote letters of complaints about trivial matters. Those who did business with him opposed him and would not even give him the normal courtesies due him. He prayed to God for strength to overcome all of these. But after his prayer the situation became worse. One day a worker came and told him, "Today every machine in the plant stopped running. We cannot find the reason, and we do not know what the problem is. You need to go look for yourself." He had no choice but to go and look. After checking, he found out that there was nothing wrong with the engine except that the valve of the boiler had been damaged. Without pressure, the steam could not be utilized, and every machine stopped running. At that moment he heard a small voice saying to him, "You need to be a gas engine." He told people afterwards, "As the donkey spoke to Balaam, this gas engine spoke something to me that day. I thank and praise God." He went on to say, "If the valve is bad, there is no pressure. If there is no pressure, none of the gas lamps in the city can be lit. Pressure makes every gas lamp shine. I should not reject any pressure. Instead, I should be a gas engine."
Brothers, the power of life in a person can never be greater than the pressure he can bear. There was a brother among us who would not bow to worship his ancestors in his wedding. His uncle had found him a job in a bank, but due to his refusal to worship his ancestors, he was not given the position. We all felt sorry for him, but this incident only showed how much power was really within him. If I can remain standing after someone has pushed me, this indicates how much power is within me. The outward push only manifests the inward power. The power manifested within is as great as the pressure from without.
The Bible tells us not only of the fact of resurrection, but also of the principle of resurrection. The Lord Jesus was raised from the dead; this is a fact. But there are also many teachings about resurrection, such as knowing the power of resurrection. These are the principles of resurrection. Therefore, resurrection is not just a fact, but also a principle that should be proven in our lives. The principle of resurrection is based upon the fact of resurrection. Originally, there was a man whose body was crucified and then made alive. He died and was physically buried, yet He was raised from the dead. The bondage of death had no power over Him. In Him there was something more powerful than death. He has passed through death and still lives; He is not touched by death. The principle of resurrection is to pass through death and still live.
If there is a brother who is naturally very patient, gentle, and kind, he has only his natural virtues. God will allow his friends, relatives, and co-workers to oppress him, pierce him, take advantage of him, and hurt him until, being unable to contain himself, he will lose his temper. Then he will realize that his natural virtues are inadequate because they cannot pass through death. This is a great test. If he will lift up his head to God at these times and say to Him, "God, my patience has run out; manifest Your patience in me," he will be amazed to find patience in the midst of all the death situations. This is resurrection. Resurrection is for God’s life to pass through death and still live. Everything natural encounters death and does not resurrect. Everything of God passes through death and still lives. Many people do not know what is of themselves and what is of God; they do not know what is of the flesh and what is of Christ, what is old and what is new, what is natural and what is of resurrection. This is why God allows death to come upon them, so that they will realize how much of what they have is able and how much is not able to pass through death. Only then will they know resurrection. Why does God allow pressure to come upon you? The only reason is to show you that everything you think you can do and everything you think you can endure or withstand will disappear and fail. You will be pressed to such an extent that you can only say, "God, I can stand it no longer. My power has run out. Manifest Your power in me." God wants you to be pressed to such an extent that the pressure produces the power. By then the pressure will not only become the strength for you to call on Him, but will become the factor that ushers in the power of God’s work.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 10: The Present Testimony (3), Chapter 21, by Watchman Nee)