Why are we so surprised when a convoy of trucks shows up at our front door to dump all their garbage on us? Why are shocked when out of the blue the fabric of our lives comes unraveled and suddenly we are left with only rags? Why do we gasp in horror when people we love prove conclusively that they are human and are not perfect? Why do we fall apart when crisis hits? Why do we insist on dwelling on the worst of situations that arise, the worst things people say and do and the worst things about ourselves? Are we masochists or something?
These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 American Standard Version (ASV)
Jesus Himself warned us that in the world we will have tribulation but to cheer up because He has overcome the world. Simply put, tribulation means to crush, compress or squeeze. Tribulation is pressure, affliction and distress. Whereas most of us equate tribulation with being sick, having no money and very few friends; in the early church, tribulation related to the sacrifices and troubles Christians faced because of their bold stand upon and proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The single greatest key to staying faithful to God during times of tribulation is to know that it is temporary and will not last forever. Whatever is causing us tribulation, affliction, distress and pressure in our lives must be isolated, put in the proper perspective and not allowed to consume us or defeat us. Many times we cannot stop tribulation but we can stop it from ruining our walk with God. Tribulation should draw us CLOSER to God and not drive us away from Him. Tribulation makes us stronger believers and remind us that we are still at home in these frail bodies we dwell within and are surrounded by scoundrels and evil people of every ilk who are seeking to hurt, entrap or destroy us.
We read in the New Testament that the believers faced tribulation, affliction, distress, pressure and persecution on a regular basis. Contrary to the teaching of the so called prosperity gospel , there are very few little in the New Testament to indicate that the believers were abounding in material wealth, dwelling in mansions and living their lives without a care in the world. Many believe that when Jesus said to cheer up because he has overcome the world that once a person is saved, they will have no tribulation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Jesus Christ did indeed overcome the world when God raised Him from the dead. We too will overcome the world when we escape this body, this life and this world in which we live. All of these things come into prominent view in 2 Corinthians, Thessalonians and other places in the New Testament where the believers were being attacked, afflicted by natural disasters and constantly harassed for their beliefs. Paul's words in the fourth and fifth chapters of 2 Corinthians speak loudly on the topic of tribulation. Here is just one example in 2 Corinthians 4:7-10:
7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves;
8we are pressed on every side, yet not straitened; perplexed, yet not unto despair;
9pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed;
10always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body.
American Standard Version (ASV)
As we focus on our Lord Jesus Christ and what He went through for us and what God did for Him in and through the resurrection, we are able to withstand the pressures of this life. When we take our eyes off of Jesus Christ and look at the problems engulfing us, we will surely collapse under the weight of the pressures afflicting us. That is why it is so important that we always keep in the front of our minds what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
16Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.
17For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory;
18while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
American Standard Version (ASV)
Many of us are facing unbelievable pressure right now in the physical, financial, relationship and mental realms. Many of us are having to divert much of the time and energy normally devoted to the things of God just to keep our head above the water. Many of us are dealing with excruciatingly difficult and or emotionally draining situations that are acting like a drowning man seeking to take us down with him. That is why it is so very important right now for all of us to reach out and grab the hand of Jesus Christ who is strong enough to lift us (and the drowning person) to safety. Even if you don't see that hand, reach out and the promise is that it will always be there for us.
Sometimes there is a particular passages of scripture that is of special significance for you because during the most difficult times in your life, God has brought it to your attention time and time again. The fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians is one of mine. Thank you for serving to remind me of these precious words once again.