I just read the neatest story on a blog post entitled, “How to love without imploding.” I encourage you to read his other posts as well, but I will quote the story from this particular blog.
“The nuclear submarine Thresher had heavy steel bulkheads and heavy steel armor, so it could dive deep and withstand the pressure of the ocean. Unfortunately, on a test run in 1963, the Thresher‘s nuclear engine quit, and it could not get back to the surface. It sank deeper and deeper into the ocean. The pressure became immense. The heavy steel bulkheads buckled; the Thresher was crushed with 129 people inside.
“The Navy searched for the Thresher with a research craft that was much stronger than submarines. It was shaped like a steel ball and was lowered into the ocean on a cable. They finally located the Thresher at a depth of 8,400 feet, one and a half miles down. It was crushed like an egg shell. That was not a surprise, for the pressure at that depth is tremendous—3,600 pounds per square inch.
“What was surprising to the searchers was that they saw fish at that great depth. And these fish did not have inches of steel to protect them. They appeared to have normal skin, a fraction of an inch thick. How can these fish survive under all that pressure? How come they are not crushed by the weight of the water? They have a secret. Their secret is that they have the same pressure inside themselves as they have on the outside. Survival under pressure” (Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from Genesis, pp. 492-493).
Paul’s own experience of gospel ministry included being “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9). How could his heart not implode when he was giving it to so many, while being pursued and persecuted by many more? Because of what was inside. “We have this treasure [of the gospel] in jars of clay…always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4:7, 10).
What increases our capacity to bear the burdens of others is the burden-bearing, love-manifesting reality of Christ crucified and risen for us. When we commune with our Savior and allow his incomparable love to pressurize our hearts, we will find that, “though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day,” and thus, “we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:16). God delights in sustaining us as we share the weighty griefs of others, not only because it blesses them but also because it brings him glory. Our endurance shows that “the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7), and “as grace extends to more and more people it…increase[s] thanksgiving, to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).
If we are to love without imploding, the highest priority of our day must be engagement with the one who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. May his love regulate our hearts and empower us to sacrificially love one another.”