When the pressure gets high enough, something in us cries, “STOP” …… I just can’t take this pressure, …… I need relief and I need it now. I guess we’ve all experienced this at times. The pressure could be in the form of physical pain; perhaps it’s a job pressure where things and your future seems to be at the breaking point. Maybe it’s in the form of fractured relationships with your spouse or one of your children, or a friend. “I can’t take this any more… I need relief.” Maybe it’s in the midst of temptation to sin.
These can be very difficult times. The pressure is trying to make us quit…. just stop the pain…. I can’t take it anymore. The problem is that we are often choosing short term relief for a long term disaster. The passage from Maccabees today speaks to this kind of pressure. Eleazar is being offered a way out from being tortured and killed by just compromising his beliefs…. just go thru the motions and everything will get better. Well, he didn’t choose the easy way out. “This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of courage and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation.” ( 2 Maccabees 6:18-31) Because of his righteous decision we still honor him thousands of years later.
Yet, easier said than done. When the immediate pressure can seem just too much, how do we still choose the right thing. How do we choose to do what God says when the pressure is so great. Well, let’s speak to that.
First of all, let’s clearly admit that we need God’s help…we need the grace of God…. “Jesus help me…help me”. Crying out to the Lord is vitally important. We can’t do it on our own.
Next, we need to see reality…to see clearly what’s going on…to see what’s at stake. Holy Spirit, show me what’s at stake here. Help me to see the truth. Help me to see this decision in light of eternity. How will I feel about this decision in 5 days, in 5 months, in 5 years, in 50 years, into eternity. Will I be happy I made this decision when I see the Lord in judgement ? Is the temporary relief worth the eternal consequences?
Finally, we need help from our true friends… from those who will help us, will pray for us and speak the truth to us… those who will cheer us on and encourage us. These include our earthly friends who are men and women of God, who we trust…. but also our heavenly friends… those who have gone on before us and we trust are with the Lord. And that includes the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and the saints.
So, I encourage you and I encourage myself to not quit when the pressure gets high and we’re tempted to choose the easy way out. In truth there is no easy way out. Christ will help us and give us the grace to do the right thing…even though it is hard. And we will be so happy that we chose Christ and his ways. Stand firm my friend, Christ will have the last word. And that is very good news.