Avoiding The Sinkhole Syndrome-2020

In Ephesians 3:16 Paul offered a prayer for the Ephesian believers—but it’s a prayer that pertains to all Christians—

Ephesians 3:16 (NKJV)
16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,  This is a very important request for every believer—especially when living in stressful and difficult times.

Even though, under this current administration, the economy has improved and the number of people working is at an all-time high—yet people are still dealing with a lot of inner turmoil, anxiety and even depression. The reasons for this vary with each individual and the personal struggles they are facing. Some of these struggles are financial in nature, some are health related, while other struggles are due to loneliness, substance abuse (alcohol, opioids), family issues (marriage, rebellious teenagers, being estranged from family members)—and various other external pressures due to the stress of ‘life in the fast lane’ modern, craziness!

I deal with people all the time who feel that their lives have become unmanageable due to the pressures of raising children (with all the activities they’re involved in), while working a full-time job, and simply trying to keep up with the myriad of everyday choirs and responsibilities that never seem to end.  This has caused many to feel as though they’re living in a “pressure cooker.”

Now look, life can be stressful—that’s a given, but one thing is for sure—the only way we are going to be able to stand up against these and all the other external pressures that are pressing down upon us on a daily basis—is to be strengthened by God in the inner man by His Holy Spirit Who lives within us.

I’m sure that most of you have heard of a sinkhole.  A sinkhole is due to an underground water source (a spring or water pipe that breaks) that washes away so much soil that the ground below can no longer support what’s built on top of it. When that happens, it caves in taking with it cars, houses, landscape—and whatever else is above when the ground below gives way.

This can happen on an emotional level as well. You see the Bible teaches that tribulation is a part of the Christian life. The Greek word for ‘tribulation’ is thlipsis which literally means ‘pressure brought on by outward circumstances like affliction, oppression and trouble—especially that which comes as a result of standing up for Jesus.’

Paul was a man who experienced many tribulations and outward pressures in his life for God and yet he said—

2 Corinthians 4:8 (NKJV)
8 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed…

The reason Paul could say this was because he had taken the time each day to strengthen the inner man—as he had prayed for the Ephesians. The inner man is the real you in contrast to the outer man (the physical body) that you live in.

In many ways the inner man is your internal ‘infrastructure’ that supports and sustains you on the inside from the pressures of life that are working to crush you outwardly. If you don’t strengthen it daily, at one point—you will become an emotional ‘sink hole’ where there is no longer enough inner strength to support the outward pressures of your life—and you’ll have an emotional cave-in or break-down.

At this point, you’re probably thinking—“What can I do to strengthen my inner man?”  Well, there are 4 things (4 ‘exercises’ if you will), that will build up and strengthen you inwardly as a Christian—prayer, praise, promises and pause.

1.     PRAYER

Ephesians 3:14, 16 (NKJV)
14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,

Prayer is essential for building inner strength and hope in whatever circumstance you find yourself in.  Mark 1:35 says that it was Jesus’ habit to get up long before the sun came up to start His day in prayer.  He would also stop in the middle of the day to pray—

Luke 5:15-16 (NKJV)
15  However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 16  So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

And then there were many times after a long day of ministry that the Lord Jesus would go off by Himself to a deserted place to finish His day in prayer—sometimes spending the entire night praying to His Father (Luke 6:12). I believe that by the Lord constantly strengthening Himself in the inner man it allowed Him to stand up to the pressures of life and ministry—and ultimately to the persecution He would face leading up to and including the cross.

If Jesus needed to pray to strengthen Himself how much more do we?

2.    PRAISE

Psalms 57:7 (NKJV)
7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.

Psalms 145:2 (NKJV)
2 Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever.

Praise has a way of getting our eyes off the problems and pressures of life and getting us focused on God Who is bigger than any problem—and that will strengthen our inner man. We can focus on our problems which will ‘sink’ us—or we can focus on God Who will strengthen us.

I have used this many times in my own life when I’m feeling pressured and weighed down by circumstances—I take time to get alone, I put on some praise music and I lose myself in the worship of God.  As I spend time in His presence, reminding myself (thru worship) of His greatness, His kindness, and His power—I always come away feeling recharged and strengthened inwardly!


By this I mean, meditating on and clinging to—the promises of God in His Word. Jesus promised us that, “I will be with you always even to the end of the age” and “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  We must believe this—even if we feel like He has forsaken and abandoned us in our circumstance.

God’s promises are directed at every area of our lives—

Matthew 6:31-33 (NKJV)
31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)
19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

These are some of the ‘great and precious promises’ Peter said that God has given us in His Word—promises we must cling to if our inner man is to remain strong.

4.    PAUSE

When I talk about ‘pause’ I mean to set aside time each day and week to stop working, doing choirs, running the kids to activities and even serving the Lord—to get alone with God.  As we have moved away from this principle more and more in our busy American Christianity we have become more and more like Martha—“burdened and stressed out about many things”.

Jesus practiced this all throughout His life and public ministry—He withdrew from the public to spend time in private His Heavenly Father.  As you take the time each day to feed and strengthen your inner man thru the daily disciplines of: prayer, praise, promises and pause, you will find yourself able to say like Paul—

2 Corinthians 4:16 (NKJV)
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

Pastor Phil