The Toothpaste Squeeze
The Toothpaste Squeeze

The Toothpaste Squeeze

The Toothpaste Squeeze

We usually think that we are at our best when things are going well. But actually, we are at our very best when God is able to squeeze us and we can still sing as the old hymn says:

Through it all. Through it all.
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus! I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all. Through it all.
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

Written by: Andrae E. Crouch

Notice what Paul says:

Romans 5:3-6 NASB
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The Greek word Paul uses for “tribulations” in Romans 5:3-6 is “thlipsis” which literally means “pressure” – like the pressure used to squeeze grapes. He explains that “thlipsis” produces “proven character,” and that would produce a hope that never disappoints! Paul knew all about suffering (2 Cor 11:23-30). He used this same “thlipsis” again in this passage where it is translated as “trouble”:

2 Corinthians 1:8 KJV
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.

“Pressed out of measure” is a unique expression that Paul inserts in that verse about tribulations. Every time I read that expression in the King James Version, vivid images of squeezing out a tube of toothpaste pop up in my mind. It looks something like this: I take out my last tube of toothpaste – the same tube that I have desperately smashed, pinched, twisted, stepped on, and squeezed to the absolute limit, trying to get that last tiny bit out onto my toothbrush. The horror of what that poor tube of toothpaste has suffered through is exactly how Paul described what he was feeling. Surely all of us have been squeezed “out of measure” at one time or another, right?

Paul went on to say how it all worked out in such a way as to cause him to trust and lean upon God:

2 Corinthians 1:9-10
Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,
Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us.

Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) ran a Bible College and trained many people for full-time ministry and missionary work. He had a very colorful way to explain this “squeeze”:

God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers He uses to crush us with. We say, “If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way!” But when He uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, and makes those the crushers, we object. We must never choose the scene of our own martyrdom. If ever we are going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed; you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.
I wonder what kind of finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you, and you have been like a marble and escaped? You are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you, the wine would have been remarkably bitter…
We have to be adjusted into God before we can be broken bread and poured-out wine in His hands. Keep right with God and let Him do what He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.

My Utmost for His Highest. “The Commission of the Call – Sept 30.”

J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) was an English missionary to China for 54 years. He also knew all about pressure. This is what he had to say about it:

It does not matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies – whether it comes between you and God, or whether it presses you nearer His heart.

When we sweetly trust in Jesus “through it all” with praise, worship, and thanksgiving, then that pressure will always make us BETTER, not bitter! There is nothing this old world or that old devil could ever throw at us that God cannot work together for good and use to make us more and more like Jesus! As Paul explained, this pressure will produce “proven character” – the character of Christ within us! Hallelujah!

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