When visiting Israel a year ago, one of the details that captured my attention was a replica of an olive press used in the first century A.D. The disc used to apply pressure to the olives was powered by a vertical shaft that could be turned to lower the disc and thereby increase the pressure on the fruit. This process forced the olives to release the desired product — rich, golden olive oil.
As I contemplated this visual reminder of spiritual, emotional, and physical pressures I often experience in my personal life, it struck me that pressure of this type is designed to generate a valuable product. Pressure is not pointless; it always results in a breaking down of the current status quo and yields some type of product. Of course, not all pressure is positive or healthy; however, assuming I have examined my heart and made any necessary changes to my schedule, actions, and attitudes, I can trust God to produce something of value from that season of pressure and crushing.
Is it easy? Certainly not! However, the Bible says that Jesus “was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NET Bible). Jesus experienced being pressed out, crushed, and bruised on our behalf. He chose to confirm His commitment to that process in the Garden of Gethsemane. The pain and grief He experienced in bearing the sins of the world were far from easy; we read that He even suffered to the point of sweating blood (Luke 22:44). Undeterred from His purpose, He obediently carried our sins to the cross and endured the horrors of physical and spiritual death on our behalf. Of course, the Bible also describes how His unspeakable pressure and pain resulted in resurrection power and deliverance from darkness for everyone who receives His gift of forgiveness!
In Hebrew, the word Gethsemane means oil press, or literally translated, press of oils. In English, we do not use the expression oil press, but rather olive press. Notice that, in English, this simple phrase we use to describe a piece of ordinary agricultural equipment emphasizes the fruit being crushed; on the other hand, in Hebrew, the phrase for the same piece of equipment emphasizes the product to be gained as a result of the pressing! The lesson to be learned for me: when I experience pressure, I must shift my focus from myself to the end result of the process God is allowing me to walk through.
Father, when I experience times of great pressure, help me to remember not to focus on myself and my personal pain or inconvenience; help me understand that the crushing process will prove productive and that You have appointed me to bear Kingdom fruit. Empower me to focus on the gain and not my personal losses or sorrows or pain. May I be an “olive” yielded to your holy pressing process, in Jesus’ Name!