-- F. Lavington (available in pamphlet form from Bible Truth Publishers)

My desire is to speak on the verse, "In pressure Thou hast enlarged me." It is a principle of the ways of God which is unfailing in its application from the beginning right up to the world to come. The word that is used for pressure carries with it the thought of tribulation, suffering or trial. We are all familiar with those words, and we are familiar with the things themselves. I desire to see if we can get help in seeing the application.

There are certain things which would not have come in had sin not come in. If man had not asserted his will in defiance of the will of God, certain things would not have come in-for instance, redemption, judgment, and the capacity to sift and discern so as to put good on one side and evil on another. Had not sin come in, the occasion for these and many other things would not have arisen. But, sin having come in, then God, the God who loves us and whom we love, has established a principle on the line of which He moves and under the influence of which we come. The first mover on that line was God, so the blessed God would say that if sin, and with sin death and many other things, has come in, then the divine activities must move in certain ways. If God would say that, we must not be surprised if the whole cast of things which embraces the manner of life and the very purpose of the people of God being upon earth should follow along those same lines. So, the first movement of the blessed God, sin having come in, is the indication on the part of God that He was prepared to suffer. He was prepared to move on the line of suffering that He might effect recovery in a manner of glory which transcended all possibilities, had sin not come in.  

And so the first word from the blessed God is, "The woman's seed"-Christ-on the line of suffering, love and sacrifice. If that be so with the blessed God, then we are prepared that the same shall be true of the Son of His love, for they go "both of them together." From the moment that God announced "the woman's seed," everything from that moment up to the cross indicates that the divine mind had brought itself to this-suffering, sacrifice and surrender. The Lord Jesus Christ has passed by the way of death. Thus the Old Testament is replete with those things which suggest to us the love of the Lord in suffering, the pathway of the Lord under pressure and then, finally, that supreme pressure of the garden of Gethsemane, of the cross and of the tomb. It is on that line that God inaugurates the principle, "In pressure Thou hast enlarged me," He Himself giving the character to it and carrying it through. If that be so, we must not be surprised if we come in on the line of pressure. 

One can see, I believe, that in the ways of God, pressure, trial and testing are the elements which preserve the wholesomeness and the purity of the body. It is a wonderful thing how it works out from beginning to end. Take, for instance, in the first words that the blessed God addresses to the woman, "In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children." Just think how that has worked out in the myriads of those who have come into the world! "In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children." It is inevitable that God should be on that line; it could not be otherwise. And what I would like to suggest to you is that we should not look upon pressure or suffering or trial or affliction as abnormal-as the unexpected or that which carries with it the sense of shock or surprise, but that, in the spirit of our minds, we accept it as a principle of the house of God that enlargement comes in proportion to the pressure. 

I might put it in another way: The enlargement carries with it the thought of the manifestation, or expansion, of the light of the glory which will shine out in the world to come. If there had been no sin, there would not be any "world to come." I suppose the occasion for it would scarcely exist. But what it is in its essence is that the blessed God reserves that in the millennial day, in which He will give the answer to all the pressure, affliction and knowledge of Himself gained in these things, He will give that day to the manifestation of light, which consists in the knowledge of God that has been learned in the place of affliction and trial. 

I think it would help us very much if we could cease to look upon tribulation, affliction and the like things as calamity, misfortune or the unforeseen and embrace in the spirit of our minds that it is a normal element of the house of God. One could go so far as to say that God maintains a certain amount of pressure or suffering in His house among His people as a necessary component, without which we could not get on. And if we view it that way, then I think we shall, perhaps, become the subjects of it or witness it to others, without the sense that something unforeseen or calamitous had happened. We would view it rather in this way, that there is one-this brother, that sister, myself-who is under the tender and gracious handling of God as an essential part of that which has to be maintained in His house, which is pressure.


Now the purposes of pressure are manifold. For one thing, they certainly are preservative. Take yourself-take myself: If I am free from the handling of God in the way of what we speak of as trial, difficulty or pressure, I am very predisposed to take things easy, as it were, here in this world. I am very predisposed, in the exercise of vigorous health or easy health, of easy circumstances or of surroundings that are to my liking, to regard it with a fairly independent state of mind, without, perhaps, very much concern for others. But then pressure comes in as a wonderful preservative. I might illustrate it by Peter. The principle runs through from Abel onward, but I will illustrate it with Peter. The Lord said to Peter, "When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God" (John 21:18-19). 

There is Peter: Wherever he goes he has this in his mind, "The Lord has put pressure upon me." Suppose someone comes to him and says, "We have a fine proposition for you-a sure thing to set you up here in this world." He says, "The Lord has told me that I am going to die [and die he did, by the cross]. I have no time or place for the thing." Suppose, in one way or the other, the power of the world has come in; he would always think, "I have the sentence of death in myself; that sentence of death carries me along day by day to an inevitable end." But how does he regard it? With serenity; in peacefulness. 

We say sometimes, "Is so-and-so resigned?" Perhaps the answer is "yes." I am rather sorry to hear it. In the light of Christ glorified and of the spirit which illumines the house of God, I do not think resignation is the spirit, because resignation implies a kind of stoicism-a sort of a feeling that one cannot escape that which is inevitable-therefore we must take it quietly. But if we view Peter as he addresses us in his Second Epistle, speaking in the peace and serenity of a spirit perfectly at home with God, in the contemplation of the fact that he was shortly going to "put off this my tabernacle," that was not resignation; it was the serene expression of one at perfect peace in the hand of God. 

Now, the enlargement that came to Peter was that he is enabled to magnify the great glory of Christ as he does and also that there is secured for him a definite place in the world to come. The pressure is answered by what is proportionate in the world to come.


Beside being preservative, I think we can see that pressure is educational. How do we learn God? We learn God through His handling of us. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." That is how we learn God. Therefore, it seems that those of us who have been longest on the way, upon looking back, are prepared to say that the things which have been our definite blessing and which have done the most to mold us in the knowledge of God have been our trials. David-like, we can say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted" (Psalm 119:71). "Before I was afflicted I went astray" (vs. 67). "I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me" (vs. 75). So it is of great blessing to the soul to be able to say of the things that come upon us, "Here is my education; God is educating me." Take it up on that line.


Then there is another great feature in respect of pressure, and that is influence. Where should we all be if we did not have among us the influence which we see in the hand of God touching one and another? I remember that Mr. Stoney once said that he went to visit the sick, not for their sake so much as for his own sake. I know what he meant; he meant that when we move around in activity and, as it were, breathe the external atmosphere of the world and its affairs and the people in it, we become more or less hardened-imperceptibly almost, but certainly. And then you come aside, you come to the bedside of one who is laid there in suffering, and you see the way in which God is making Himself known in His tender love to that one. You and I are often in such a position. I was, a very short time ago, with a dear man now with the Lord, and the peacefulness, the restfulness in the love of God that was manifested in that one was very wonderful. 

Take the case of another young man whom I was with a very short time ago. The doctor came to him and said, "I think you are going to recover after all." He said, "You are not bringing me good news. You told me a little while ago that I was going home to be with the Lord, and now you are trying to bring me back again!" The influence of these things upon our spirits is invaluable, bringing us, as it were, into the breathing of an atmosphere that is at total variance to this world and that is redolent with the precious support of God, the encouragement of God, and the priestly touch of the Lord Jesus Christ! You go out from a place like that and your spirit is purified, softened and molded. So the maintenance of these things in the house of God is a necessity for its spiritual wholesomeness, for its spiritual perfection. 

I wonder if you see how this principle works all through Scripture? We look for a day of glory. We read about it in the First Epistle of Peter. That is the great epistle of suffering, of pressure. What is the answer to that? The answer to that is a day of glory in which there will be no suffering-the world to come. Talking with a dear sister who was laid aside in very painful circumstances, where she had been lying in one position for many years, her poor body twisted, I said to her, "You know your present sufferings have not to do so much with this world as with the world that is coming." She wanted to know how. I said, "In the world that is coming there will be no one who will know God in suffering; there will be no one who will be able to tell from personal experience what the support of the High Priest is in circumstances like these, but you are laid aside here and have been here for years. It is not so much for its effect in this world, as it is in the education that you will have for the Lord to say to you, ‘Go and tell this one and that one and the other one in the world to come what God has been to you in a sphere of weakness and suffering.'" She said, "I never thought of it in that way; I deem it a great honor." That is right. "In pressure Thou hast enlarged me." She was enabled in that sense to apprehend that God has, in the process of training, under His own blessed touch, those who will supply to the myriads of the world to come a manner of light and education that they never could get from their own practical experience.


So that principle holds good. Take Isaac, for instance. You have him in his early youth bound and laid for death upon the altar. Indeed, that must have been a pressure for him. "Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" And there he is, lying bound. You can see what would enter his mind and thoughts-what the view of this world would be for one lying in that position, as he was. That was pressure. Now for the enlargement. He comes back from among the dead, and the Lord God comes to Abraham and says, in respect of Isaac, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." There was the pressure, and there was the answering enlargement. 

The principle works all the way through. Take Joseph, down in the pit-no water, the place of death. He is taken from there and put in the prison. The iron enters his soul. He lies there in fetters. But what was the answer to the pit and the prison for Joseph? His glory filled all the land of Egypt, so that every being in the land, and from other lands too, came and said, "Thou hast saved all our lives." 

Take Paul. It is a lovely subject to follow up. Here is Paul in activity, and he is taken and put under pressure. He is shut up in prison. In all the intense devotion and activities which were his for Christ, he is put in prison. There is pressure. What now? Out from the prison there came the most precious of all epistles that we have-the epistles to the Colossians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, the Second Epistle to Timothy, and to Philemon. That rich and glorious enlargement which has nurtured and fed the whole church of God from that time to this came out of the pressure of prison. 

The principle works all the time. You might take up those who have been known to us. For instance, our beloved brother Mr. Darby, whom it was my privilege to know-it worked with him. He had ideas and thoughts from which nothing was coming, and God was pleased to lay him aside for three months through what we would call an accident or misfortune or calamity. And in those three months laid aside, with the capacity to do nothing but to think, there was formed in his spirit that light which has become clearly the light of recovery for this present day. There was the pressure, and the enlargement has come in a manner, not only for his blessing, but greatly for our blessing and enrichment. 

So, beloved brethren, I just want to suggest to you and to all of us that, in the ways of God, we are in the environment in which these things will reach us. I would like to impress this upon you, that, as a matter of observation, there is more of trial and affliction among the people of God than there is in the world. The world has its vicissitudes that have come about as a consequence of sin and lawlessness in man. But in addition to our being affected by those things, we cannot doubt but that God makes selection in His own garden, so to speak, of those whom He lays aside just for the pure blessing of the house of God-choice souls, souls who live in the love of God-those who, being laid aside, you might say their value in activity has gone. Ah! But laid aside, as it were, under the hand of God, who can tell their worth in that way? 

So one is privileged to look upon it that God makes selection of those who shall adorn His house in the way of pressure and trial and affliction. We should look upon them in a certain sense as honored vessels, while we convey to them the _expression of our deep sympathy. They are honored vessels. Time was when I used rather to wonder whether pressure or affliction was the evidence of the governmental dealings of God. But I think it more correct to view it that the laying aside in the governmental dealings of God is much the smaller part of the affliction and pressure that we have among us. Rather, one looks upon it that, as you go to your garden and pick your choicest flowers or your best fruit, so does the Lord make selection of those who are the very choice in the knowledge of Himself and who are evidently much in the secret of the Lord, as loving Him. 

Light in the Heavenly City

I think that we might see that, of the grounds on which we are laid aside, the governmental thought is one side only; another side is certainly that the radiancy of the knowledge of the glory of God should shine forth from the earthen vessel (2 Cor. 4:6). And that light in the soul, which shines out, is acquired, in the main, through pressure, sacrifice and surrender.  

But then it is also allowed and produced in the house of God for its influence, for we who are active would be very different in our spirits if we did not come from time to time and put ourselves under the influence of those on whom the Lord puts His finger of pressure. I do not know how it is with you younger ones here, but I do certainly commend to you to count it a privilege and seek the opportunity to get close in with those whom the Lord is laying pressure upon; you will learn God in witnessing the way in which He enables them to bear suffering, to learn, to pray, and to carry the exercises of the assembly in their hearts. For instance, a beloved sister, whom many of us know, passed away a short time ago. She was 97 years of age. For almost 80 years of that time she was absolutely stone deaf, and a good part of the time after that laid aside. It was a choice privilege to go and talk with that dear child of God. Among the last things that she said, and which she also wrote to me, was, "My education is not yet complete!" But she contributed to the education in the spirits of countless numbers of the children of God, whom she carried in her spirit of prayer. Every concern that was going on in a broad way in the house of God came to her, and she had a thought and judgment upon it all. The value of a woman like that is just simply inestimable. Of her it could be said, "In pressure Thou hast enlarged me." The poem that she wrote, "The Cloud and the Argument," showed how a young soul in her teens could take things up with God that, afterward, in intense pressure, she maintained for eighty long years. 

When a brother said to another dear soul, recently taken home, "Why do you think the Lord leaves you here so long?" she replied, "Oh, that is easy to answer. He leaves me here to pray." That dear soul was bright in her faculties and 103 years old when she went home recently. 

What can we do without such things among us? Take the company of the Lord's people here; if you have not among you those who are the subjects of the pressure of the Lord in these ways, you are impoverished. If you have them, look upon them as a source of spiritual wealth.  

Regard them as assets of the greatest value. You do not know how much you are supported by the prayers and the spirits of those who are the prisoners of the Lord in this way-suffering in body, in spirit, in infirmities, and so forth. 

Bodily Pressure

I suppose that one might say that the pressures of God, through which He enlarges, follow certain lines, for instance, bodily pressure. Of all the things that men esteem most, I suppose it is their bodily health. Therefore, it is no wonder that the blessed God is pleased to break our bodily health in various ways: sap our energies and strength, convince us that we have bodies of humiliation, and put us in pain and suffering. The amount of education that we get of the knowledge of God through our bodies is certainly very great, and our bodies, being handled in that way by God, become privileged to be a great influence for spiritual blessing to the people of God. 

Business Pressure

Another way in which pressure comes in, and where we very quickly respond to it, is in our business vicissitudes. How quickly we cry out when the finger of God comes upon what we call our means of living-but which very often are not the means of our living, but rather the means of gratifying tastes and likings altogether beyond what God has indicated to us when He says, "Food, raiment, contentment." How many has one seen whose careers have been shattered by the failure to see the simple principle, "Godliness with contentment is great gain....And having food and raiment let us therewith be content" (1 Tim. 6:6,8). Therefore God has come in; in His mercy and goodness, He has shattered our business concerns-perhaps even shattered the very means of our gaining a livelihood. I know what I am talking about. I have been through it. I trust what I am saying to you now may be of some value to you younger ones. 

Pressure From the World

There are other pressures-pressures from the world. It is a hostile world. Do not let it be a friendly world. God forbid that it should be to us a friendly world. It is a hostile world, and it brings its pressures. If you are not the friend of the world but get the pressure of the world, there is great blessing for you. 

Family Pressure

Then there is another kind of pressure that some of us know something about-pressure in our families, in our relationships. It is a thing of deep admiration how God, in divine wisdom, can turn about the things that lie closest to our hearts. So, in our very families, in that which is nearest to us by nature, we are brought under grief and affliction. Yet, from it all, He brings out an enlargement which, perhaps, in this world is of great blessing to others in its influence and which surely in the world to come will have an answer from God. 

Assembly Pressure

There is another line of pressure, and that is as identified with the house of God, the assembly. What cares, what pressures, what trials and what griefs arise in that circle so dear to us! And, as God softens and molds us by bringing us personally under affliction and pressure-or, viewing it where it hurts us more, in our loved ones or in others whom He has laid aside among us-one understands how these things prepare our spirits so that, under the impress of Christ, we may suitably handle and care for that which, in its tiny measure, we may touch, as Paul touched it in its great measure: "Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches." 

Pressure of Bereavement

There is another pressure to which all of us have at some time or other responded, and that is bereavement. It is something to contemplate that we belong to a company, the people of God, who, throughout all ages, will enter into the world to come, the eternal state, as having known in greater or lesser degree the pressure that has come from bereavement. If it be the definite word, "With pain thou shalt bear children" (JND), so the word, "In pressure Thou hast enlarged me" applies, so that none of us is suffered to pass through this scene and to live here among others, but there must come the constriction of the heart's affections, the throbbing of grief, in bereavement. It comes to all. It is the Lord's prerogative to touch us in that way. How much does that constriction of heart enlarge us! As the blessed Lord could say at the grave of Lazarus, "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" (John 11:40). 

Governmental Pressure

So, in all these ways, we trace that the blessed God is effecting His intentions not only or principally governmentally. Perhaps I had better explain that a little more before I close. By "governmentally," I think the hand of God comes in upon us in pressure where the will is unsubdued and defiant to the will of God. I do not think that is true of many. I think with regard to most, speaking from observation of the children of God, they do not carry a will that is intentionally defiant of the will of God or that purposely goes contrary to what He shows to be right. 

Where infirmity, failure and breakdown come in, it is generally the case that the motive is good, but the intelligence is not good and the communion with God is not good. But it is not the deliberate pursuing of a course which is contrary to the mind of God. When I say, "I am going to have that object at all costs," that is where the will is asserted against God and where the governmental dealing comes in. I think that if you follow it through Scripture, you will find that this is so. But, on the other hand, the most of those that are laid aside among us are those who, in large measure, accept the will of God. Many of those who are laid aside among us are absolutely the choicest ones of the flock. How often this has been verified! The other day I saw a dear sister in her early forties, who was afflicted with cancer, pain and suffering, knowing that very soon, a few weeks or so, she would be with the Lord. Everyone who could flocked to her bedside. One got the impression that he could not afford not to go there, to get her impressions of Christ, for she was in the hand of God. 

Again, there is a similar case of a dear sister well-known to me, who has been with the Lord many long years now. She had pilgrimages to her bedside from all parts of England. It would be like sacrilege to say she was governmentally there. But why was she laid aside in the midst of her years, when so much of activity might be possible? There is plenty of activity. It is that kind of pressure which lays one aside to meditate, to pray, to bear up, it may be by name, each one individually in your own company where you are, to consider for you in all your circumstances, when you, in the bustle of your lives, have scarce time to bend the knee to God morning and night. You may have among you some laid aside to whom you go, as an act of mercy, to visit, but who are considering you profoundly. You may be the debtor to that brother or sister who may be carrying you along in prayer before God, that He may preserve you in the temptations, trials and testings you have in your activity. 

So, we should not look upon pressure, affliction and the like as being calamity or misfortune, but rather a rich endowment which proceeds from springs which have their origin in the heart of God Himself, who, at the outset, moved on the line of sacrifice and surrender, who committed His Beloved Son on the line of sacrifice and surrender, and who maintains His household up to the world to come on those same lines. How beautifully it is expressed in those words, "We [also] ought to lay down our lives for the brethren"! We ought to lay down our lives for them. Consider what it means! Where is the perfection of it? In Christ! In what spirit did the blessed Lord come? In the spirit of the God who gave Him. 

In view of these things, motives are clarified, actions are purified, the wholesome atmosphere of the house of God is maintained. Breathing conditions, so to speak, are preserved in a world that is full of the foul gases of hell, corruption and violence, and an atmosphere pure and sweet is maintained along the lines that "in pressure Thou hast enlarged me." So Peter addresses the beloved saints as regards their present place of trial, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:7-8). 

So, may we take it home and not speak too much of misfortune-not speak too much of calamity-not speak too much of being shocked when this or that comes-but accept it in the quiet, peaceful serenity of peace with God, for it is along those lines that we reach it. You know your Saviour-He "who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also…" (Rom. 4:25-5:3). 

I just put it up to you: Do you glory-do you boast-in tribulation? Is it so? It is so if you understand it. If you see the place it has as an ordinary principle in the ways of God, you will "glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us." So that link is perfect. God moved in divine love at the outset to sacrifice from Himself and the blessed Lord Jesus, and He passes us through the same line. The link-the circle-is perfect. It ends up in the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given unto us.