Jesus Christ verified in pointed manner that “in the world you shall have tribulation.” It is a literal truth that cannot be denied, but it is certainly a truth all too often resisted attitudinally, especially by people of the church. When it comes to experiencing tribulations, it actually should prevail upon the people of the church to watch our attitude concerning those certain sufferings that sometimes singe the soul.
The believer in Jesus Christ must understand that tribulations are par for the Christian course in life. Apostle Paul verified it in pointed manner, too, when he informed the people of the churches “…that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God.”
He was not saying that there was much hardship to endure in order to become a part of the Kingdom of God. Rather, he was pointing out that there was much tribulation to experience because of being a part of the Kingdom of God. He was confirming to Christians, “This is what you can expect to experience!”
The rule of thumb is that, just because you are a Christian, all pain, suffering, or persecution is not taken out of the Christian equation. As a matter of fact, the book of I Peter hones in on the clear reality that sometimes God’s people suffer.
Here is the rub: the Scripture-revealing purpose of God is to forcibly interject the authority of His Kingdom on this earth despite the hold and dominance of the present manifested evil. In due course, the Kingdom of God will be fully established in accordance to God’s will and timing.
However, the point-specific beginning of the interjection of the Kingdom of God on this earth was with Jesus Christ and His suffering. He suffered tribulations while He lived, and He, oh, most certainly, endured the tribulations of excruciating sufferings on the Cross. The truth is that the Kingdom of God was established on the basis of the divine sufferings and tribulations of the Lord, and continues toward that goal through the tribulations and sufferings of the people of God. Paul puts it in terse terms, “For thy sake we are killed all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
But, this is where we need to watch our attitude about the tribulations through which we go. Paul presses us hard on the issue of experiencing personal tribulation when he said that his sufferings and tribulations were for the purpose “to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church.”
He was not saying that what he endured was intended to supplement the sufferings Christ endured on the Cross for Redemption. Christ’s sufferings were most sufficient on that account. Rather, he was indicating that the tribulations he experienced were for the sake of God’s ongoing authoritative actions on this earth through the church. Concerning his sufferings, Paul openly declared, “Who now rejoice in my sufferings…”
That there is proper spiritual attitude about which to maintain when going through whatever causes those certain dark nights of the soul. Paul reminded another congregation, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” We are to remember that there is a “fellowship of suffering” with Jesus Christ when one enters into relationship with Him.
Thus, we have a spiritual friction that is often confusing to the people of the church. Although there is joy, peace, and blessings involved with life in Christ, there are at times tribulations with which we are confronted. But, instead of turning bitter on God about it, remember that God uses it in His way to continue His line toward the full establishment of His Kingdom on earth. In no uncertain terms, know that the Bible informs us what we may expect. But, in no uncertain terms, too, it also informs how we should consider it and deal with it attitudinally.
That is why Revelation 21:4 is so sweet to recall, for one day “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain, for the former things are passed away.”
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.