As Christians we hardly ever use the word “tribulation” or “trials” to describe the issues we face in our daily life. Instead we say something like, “I’m dealing with some things right now.” Or we might say, “I’m just having a bad day.” Or it may even be a bad year.
In our Christian walk our first response should be to self-evaluate through Scripture to see if maybe we’ve missed something. We may seek counsel from our pastor or advise from church leadership. Our hope is that they can help us trace the problem or point us to Christ or His Word for a possible solution.
But what if there’s no particular reason that we can discern for our struggle? Shouldn’t the Christian life be free of trouble? Why are we faced with trials and tribulations? Better yet, how do we rejoice in them? This is what we would like to discuss this week.
In John 16:33 (AMP) Jesus encouraged his disciples with these words; “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”
Tribulation in Scripture often denotes the troubles and distresses which proceed from persecution, but why are we persecuted? The answer is simple and written in the Bible to give us hope. In the Gospel of John we read the main reason why we are persecuted. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” John 15:18-21 (ESV)
Hate is a strong word. We need to remember that in the physical realm all of us were born in sin, separated from God until the Gospel was preached to our hearts. In other words we were once of this world and possible haters. However once saved we switched sides and now the spiritual realm of Ephesians 6:10-12 comes into play.
The very fact that we were chosen and sanctified by Christ makes us a target for the enemy (John 17:11-26). Jesus prayed for His disciples and all believers that will follow (verses 20-26). His prayer was not to take us out of this world but rather that we would be protected from the evil one.
Once we become a Christian we are commanded to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). We are not to be disconnected from this world. We are to function as a new creature in this world. In other words if a doctor gets saved the idea is to set him apart for God, transform him, then put him right back into the world he came from to be light in a place of darkness. Then the world gets to see a Christ-like life as a doctor, an engineer, a policeman, even a politician. What a difference it would make in this world we are living in today.
Jesus’ prayer is leading us to be one with the Father and with Him bringing us to complete unity so the world can know God’s love for us which he made known by sending Jesus to the Cross. This gives the enemy sufficient reason not to leave us alone. Jesus knew the enemy was not going to make it easy on anyone who speaks about the freedom found in Him; who spreads the good news that we are reconciled to our Father in heaven through Christ; that we are able to overcome trials, tribulations, and even strongholds in our lives by His shed blood and finished work at the Cross.
The attempt to strip us of the belief that we could overcome anything has been the enemy game plan since the Cross. If a person loses hope, what else is there to live for but to accept defeat for the condition they are in? However, what if rather than focusing on our trials and tribulations we become conscious of the fact that the One who defeated the enemy lives inside of us? Could that be the reason Jesus told us to take heart that He has overcome the world? What if we are constantly aware that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us? Could that be a reason to rejoice in tribulations?
The apostle Paul wrote this in Galatians 2:20 (NKJV). “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Did you get that? Just picture in your mind responding to issues in life the way Jesus did in Scripture because He lives in you. Powerful in prayer, loving people the way He did, quoting Scripture to the enemy while being tempted and exercising the spiritual authority He had, are all within our grasp. He gave us authority over all the power of the enemy as it is written in Luke 10:19. These are just a few of the promises He has given us. Does this make it easier to see why in Him we have peace? Does it make it easier to find the purpose of rejoicing in tribulations? We believe it does.
It may be difficult to find anyone who can actually say they love trials and tribulations in their lives. The truth is they are not going away solely because of the choice we made in Christ.
The apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians in chapter 11 speaks a little about some of the trials and tribulations he went through for the gospel sake. In 1 Peter chapter 4 the Word tells us not to be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on us to test us, as though something strange where happening to us. He continues by encouraging us to rejoice in as much as we participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that we may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.
There are many reasons found in the Bible to rejoice in the midst of tribulation. Here is just one. “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:1-5 (NLT)
Only God can find a way to make everything work out for our good when we love Him.
Are you faced with trials and tribulations today? Email us and let us help. firstname.lastname@example.org
Fruitbearers Outreach Ministry