Under Pressure

by Manny Fernandez on

Articles 6 min read
John 16:33

It is a difficult time to be a teenager. The day before the writing of this article, during the July 4th parade in Chicago a gunman killed 6 people and injured dozens of others. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Shootings are becoming a regular thing in the United States. There is also a looming threat of conflict as Russia and Ukraine continue to duke it out, and North Korea and China lurk in the shadows. All of this is compounded by the unending effects and implications of COVID-19. These are just a few of the external threats to our way of life. Yet, these say nothing about the internal or local threats our teens face each day. 

Pre-COVID, Pew Research reported the teenage perspective that the number one challenge they were facing was anxiety and depression. Studies are still being gathered to pinpoint the numbers post-COVID, but most would agree that students have only struggled more with anxiety and depression post-COVID.  

Another significant challenge that is adding intense pressure is academics. (I would add extracurricular activities to this list.) It has been interesting to observe how students’ calendars have become increasingly like their parents’ calendars. Gone are the days when students kick back during the summer and just hang with friends. Instead they are workaholics in the making. It used to be that summer was the ideal time to spend time with students, because they had nothing to do. Youth ministries would love to launch ministries in the summer, but that is no longer the case.  

The pressure is mounting, without a doubt. At the pace teenagers are moving today, they will burn out before they are 30, if they even make it that far. Interestingly enough, busyness is directly related to the pressure people feel. It is a vicious cycle of sorts. The more pressure one feels to perform, the more one feels they must work to perform. This pressure can be both internal and external as demonstrated at the beginning of this article.  

Is all hope lost? Never.  

J.R.R Tolkien penned Samwise Gamgee making the statement when he and Frodo faced the immensity of their impossible task, “But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow; even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.” Though Jesus said it best in John 16:33 — “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble but take heart, for I have overcome the world.”  

There is always hope. God is greater than our problems. Psalm 23 states it plainly: The Lord is my shepherd and I will want for nothing as a result. He makes us lie down in green pastures, in spite of anxiety and depression. He restores our souls! Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil because Christ is with his. His rod and his staff comfort us. His rod and his staff are not particularly instruments of comfort, but what they provide is security, which is comforting. The psalmist is comforted by the security that God’s staff provided him. Even today, God’s staff beats back the external threats to provide security and comfort in the midst of a world that lacks both. And in the midst of the storm He parts the clouds and invites His children to step out of the turbulence into peace. 

Releasing the Pressure Valve 

We have an Instapot™ that has been a wonderful addition to our home. This specialized pot uses pressure and heat to cook in minutes what would otherwise take hours. There is one important step you must remember when opening the pot. You must first release the pressure. Forgetting this step could cause an explosion and serious physical harm. But releasing the pressure slowly through the valve stabilizes the pot and you can then easily remove the lid and enjoy the meal.  

Often there is a simple solution to defuse the powder kegs of anxiety and pressure in our lives. Let me suggest three ways to release the pressure valve. 


There’s an old German proverb that says, “The main thing is that the main thing always remain the main thing.” I think often in our lives we don’t have a clear direction of where we are going, and for that reason we are pulled in a thousand different directions. This is especially true with teenagers. It might be a good idea to sit down and prioritize which things in life are important and make decisions according to those things. For example, if a walk with Christ is important, church should not be hit and miss, but a weekly priority. Or if an academic scholarship is important, trying out for every sports team should not be as important.  

Budget Your Time 

Everyone seems to have a schedule but few people actually budget their time. Someone told me once that your bank statements simply tell you where your money went. A budget is your plan to tell your money where to go. Most of our calendars simply show us where our time is going, but a budgeting approach is needed to defuse the pressure. Begin by scheduling the priorities of your week. These are the events that you must attend. Then make a list of the extras you would like to add. Next make a list of the open time slots. I would encourage you to fill up 50% of those open time slots. Fill those slots with things like rest, family time, down time. Think of these as appointments with yourself and or appointments with family. This is valuable time that you need to plan; otherwise it won’t happen. 


One of the best ways I’ve found to defuse the tensions in my life is to pray. It is difficult for some people to view this as a solution, but turning problems over to God on a regular basis is the only thing I have found that brings peace. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Somehow the Lord provides a measure of peace that we don’t understand when we come before the Lord. Prayer and trust are the antidotes to worry and anxiety. 

May the God of peace speak his truth and his comfort into your life and may you find peace. 

About the Author

Manny Fernandez (Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary, and current D.Min. student) has served in global missions and as Student Pastor at Central Bible Church. He is now the President of World Link Ministries.