Calm Under Pressure

by Dennis Stackhouse

How can a person remain calm even when he or she is under pressure, sometimes immense pressure?  Perhaps we should ask if it's even possible to remain calm in this pressure-cooker world we live in?  When we view this from the spiritual perspective we can say that it not only is possible, we can even find wonderful examples of it occurring in God's word.  For instance, think about the situation Joseph faced.  This young man was deserted by his brothers, considered dead by his father, was removed to a foreign land and then thrown in prison for a crime he didn't commit.  But through it all we see a young man who handled the circumstances in a calm, even-tempered manner.  How could he do this?  A key is found in Genesis 39:21 where we read: "But the Lord was with Joseph…"  This is a phrase repeated throughout the account detailing Joseph's life.  This man put his full and complete trust in God, regardless of the situation.

How many of us have faced a man in battle who stood over nine feet tall, an individual who was a seasoned warrior, one who could likely crush our skull with a single blow from his fist?  David went up against Goliath, a man who fit that description.  Certainly, David's physical strength was no match for Goliath.  How did he display such a calm fearlessness in that situation?  The answer is found in I Samuel 17:45-46: "Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.  This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you.'"  David realized that his strength was not enough; but the strength and power of God were more than enough.

The apostle Paul was a prisoner on a ship bound for Rome.  A storm overtook the vessel for many days so that the people on board had given up all hope of being saved.  When everyone had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up, in what appears to be a perfect state of calmness, and offered some words of encouragement.  Notice what he said in Acts 27:22-25: "Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.  For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.'  Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told."  A trust and confidence in God provides calmness even in the face of a life-threatening storm.

Before concluding, we should also touch on the necessity of prayer.  We read in Philippians 4:6-7: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Anxiety can be replaced with a calm peacefulness when we trust God, when we commune with Him in prayer on a regular basis.  That undeniably produces a calmness under pressure that we all desire to possess.