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Standing Up Under Pressure

by Shawn Brace

How well do you handle life’s pressures?

P ressure. Some people thrive on it. Others crumble. These 2010 Olympic Winter Games will find scores of athletes who 

will face pressure and seemingly insurmountable odds. Two such individuals 
are competing in the women’s singles figure skating competition.
Mao Asada of Japan and Kim Yu-Na of South Korea have already faced incredible pressure in their figure skating careers. Although both are just 19 years old, they have already taken the figure skating world by storm.
Asada is the 2008 world champion, while Kim won the 2009 distinction. The two skaters have competed strongly against each other since breaking onto the world scene, each pushing the other—applying the pressure—to be the best figure skaters they can be.
Of course, the Olympics are an entirely different animal altogether. Time and time again Olympic Games have taken athletes who have succeeded in other world events and magnified their faults and deficiencies. Sadly, when the chips are on the table, some can’t take the pressure.
Which reminds us of another “athlete”—of sorts—who faced incredible pressure and seemingly insurmountable odds. He spent much of His life being followed around by large crowds. Everyone wanted to see Him perform. Everyone wanted to see His miraculous skills. He was the talk of the town. But what many didn’t recognize is that He was training, in a way, for the climax of His life and mission.
His name was Jesus. And this incredibly successful Man found Himself in a situation that most outside observers would have been perplexed by. He found Himself pleading in a garden—crying out to God to deliver Him from the pressure that befell Him.
Just a few days before, the masses were shouting His name and heralding Him as their deliverer. He had entered into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey—a distinction in those days—and everyone was shouting His name. But then, when He came to the garden of Gethsemane a few nights later, everything had changed. The chips were now on the table, and He felt the weight of the whole world upon His shoulders.
What was happening? Jesus, as the Son of God, decided to take the blame for all the mistakes that every living human being had made and would make. This act would pardon every human being and grant them the privilege of living their present lives without fear or guilt, as well as eternal life in the future.
But Jesus’ task was not easy. To take the blame for everyone meant separation from God—it meant losing a relationship He had always known and loved. And so He pleaded with God to excuse Him from the “competition” (Matthew 26:39). He was on the verge of crumbling in the spotlight.
But, fortunately, amazingly, Jesus rose to the occasion and faced the music. He did take the blame. He did take the guilt. And because of that, you and I—and everyone else—can enjoy life. Jesus “came through in the clutch.”
Shawn Brace pastors four congregations in New Hampshire and Vermont. He and his wife, Camille, recently welcomed their first child, Camden Shawn, into the world. Shawn also started and edits New England Pastor—a bi-monthly magazine that uplifts the message of righteousness by faith. His first book, Waiting at the Altar, came out in 2008. When he isn’t busy pastoring, speaking, or writing, he loves spending time outdoors doing just about anything—but especially photographing the beauty of New England.

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