The Gift of Pressure: How God Reveals Our Hearts

I can just hear the women as they bundled babies, chased children, and repeatedly packed and unpacked belongings with each move.  It was after all the wilderness and any complaints were surely justified – just consider the circumstances which God had led them into!  No food, no water – what did He expect from them?  Not even a a woman can create something out of nothing!

In the midst of their murmuring and complaining (Ex 6:8) they were not able to see God at work and the one year turned into forty.  It was a lifetime!  They and all of those around them ate the fruit of their lips – and it was not a pleasant way to fill bellies (Prov 18:20).

It was such a waste of suffering!

God makes it clear in Deuteronomy 8 that He had a plan for this time.  He intended to use this experience for their good, taking their nothing and creating something – a people for Himself.  (God does some of His best work with nothing!) After all, there was a Promised Land on the other side.

And yet they resisted Him. and it was their children, the ones they had fretted over and feared for (Num 14:3), that saw the glory of God’s victory in that new land.

You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. (Deut 8:2-3)

It was His plan to reveal their hearts to them.

He knew what was really there and, in His love, was willing to show them as well.  Once they saw themselves as they truly were, they would have known how desperately they needed Him.  They would have lifted their eyes from their earthly circumstances, knowing that they were spiritual creatures made for a relationship with Him.  And yet they stubbornly resisted His love and fixed their eyes on the earthly, determined to be satisfied with bread.

If you are like me, you have often been amazed at the willfulness of the Israelites.  But if we look closely at their story, it is not hard to see ourselves.

To think that our hearts are any different from theirs would be self-deception (I Jn 1:8).  As believers, we have presented these hearts to God to be used as He sees fit.  He makes it clear in Scripture that He loves us too much to leave us the way He finds us; from the beginning He predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29). That process of molding and forming will require pressure (I Pt 4:12-13 and Jms 1:2-4).

God loves us just as much and in the same manner that He loved the children of Israel.

He knows what is in our hearts and will use the pressure of suffering to reveal it to us. A wise man pointed out that while hot water is necessary to make tea, it really only reveals what is already in the bag. What has God revealed to you about your heart?  Do you blame your circumstances for what is produced in you? Or do you recognize that the only things pouring out of your heart are those things that were already present?

If we are willing to take responsibility for what God reveals, He has the remedy: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I Jn 1:9)

As God’s women we can break off sinning by righteousness (Dan 4:27) and change our generation, as well as the one yet to be born (Ps 78:5-6). We are not bound by the sins of our fathers.  We are not bound by our own sins.  We were bought to be freed from the slavery of sin (Rom 6:17-18). Will you enter in to that freedom through confession and repentance?

As His women there are a number of questions we need to answer:

  • Will we condemn the children of Israel in our pride or learn from them with humility?
  • Will we yield to God’s work in the wilderness for a season or choose to remain there for a lifetime?
  • Will those around us be blessed by the fruit of our lips or will they be filled with its bitterness?
  • Will God use our children in spite of us or because of us?


Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,

Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

~Habakkuk 3:17-18

Ready to go deeper? Download Cheryl’s Bible Study on The Gift of Pressure.