One of the hardest things for us to deal with is the presence of pain and suffering in our lives. We ask ourselves the questions, “Why does a good God allow us to experience pain and suffering? And if He is good, why is He not delivering me out of it?” I think that the way things are laid out in the scripture are there to help us illustrate that God knows we live in a broken world and pain and suffering are a part of our experience no matter what we do to insulate ourselves from it.
I think the illustration of the olive press is very important because in Exodus 27:20-21, Moses tells the children of Israel, “You shall command the children of Israel, that they shall bring to you pure olive oil of beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually. In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before the Lord; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout their generations for the sons of Israel.”
In order to get pure olive oil, you would have had to go through a whole process which in this case was the responsibility of the people, not the priesthood. This responsibility gave the people a real, material witness as to how the light in the Temple would be produced. The first part of the process was to place burlap sacks around the olive trees and then to beat the branches of the olive tree so that the olives would fall off the branches and into the sacks. Then once the olives were collected and put into a stone trough, a large stone was rolled over them in order to make them crack. Without the crack, no olive oil could come out of them. Once the olives were cracked, they were ready to be crushed.
The cracked olives were placed back into the burlap sacks which acted as a strainer and these were squeezed beneath large stones with a lot of pressure. The pressure squeezed out what was on the inside and produced the oil which ran down into the trough for collection.
This oil that the children of Israel took through the whole painful process to produce, was what was used as fuel to give light in the Lord’s temple. In other words, where God comes to dwell among His people, there is a requirement for light. And the fuel for that light is actually the process of suffering that each one of us goes through. My encouragement to you is that if you are in a place where God is taking you through what feels like a beating or a crushing or even a squeezing, it is all part of God’s process to bring forth His light in and through you. And that light is what fuels the place where He comes to dwell.
So don’t be discouraged in the painful times you go through. We all go through them. We all have seasons of pain and suffering. But keep on going and allow God to finish that process because that process is where you will find your fellowship and intimacy with Him at the end.