Jesus Christ was very honest with us when He said that “in the world you shall have tribulation.” It is a literal truth that cannot be denied. But, it is also a truth that is all too often argued and resented with bad attitude, especially by the people of the church. When it comes to experiencing tribulation, it actually should prevail upon the people of the church to guard the attitude and to temper the attitude concerning those certain sufferings that singe our souls.
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 in the Kingdom of God.” He pointed out that there was “much tribulation” to experience because of being a part of the Kingdom of God. He was affirming to the Christians that tribulation is what you can expect to experience if one associates with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just because one is a Christian does not mean that one will not experience hardship. Pain, suffering, and even persecutions are not divinely taken out of the Christian equation. As a matter of fact, the book of I Peter makes it clear that sometimes God people suffer. Peter wrote, “…greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold tribulations.” The hardships we experience are within the context of, as he added, “the trial(s) of your faith.”
In the meantime, the Scripture-revealing purpose of God is to forcibly impose the authority of His Kingdom in this earth despite the hold and dominance of the present manifested evil. The Kingdom of God has been and is being interjected and fully established according to God’s will and timing.
To be clear, the specific beginning point of the interjection of the Kingdom of God on this earth was with Jesus Christ (who came on the ministry scene preaching that the K.O.G. was at hand). He suffered in association with the K.O.G. He suffered a variety of tribulations while He lived here on this earth. He, oh most certainly, endured the tribulations of sufferings while He hung on the Cross.
The truth to accept is that the K.O.G. was established on the bases of the divine sufferings and tribulations of the Lord, not militarily, not politically, not economically. The growth of the K.O.G. has not stopped, either, for the continued growth of the K.O.G continues on the bases of the tribulations and sufferings that the people of God experience because of our salvation by Him. Because of our identification with Him, that is why Paul said in terse terms, “For thy sake we are killed all-the-day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Now, here is the rub. We need to guard our attitude about the hardships through which we go. Paul presses us hard on the subject of physical suffering, for he said that the trials and tribulations that he himself went through 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 our sufferings supplement those of Christ. But, just as His sufferings were for the sake of God interjecting the K.O.G. on earth, ours, as the extension of Christ’s, continue the divine, authoritative plan. That is why Paul said that we can “rejoice in our sufferings.”
There is the rightful and proper attitude about it all. Again, Paul said, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” For sure, there is joy, peace, and blessings involved with life in Christ. But, there are also tribulations in the mix. Instead of turning bitter toward God or fussing about God, remember that He uses them purposely.
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…”
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.