In John 16:33, Jesus Christ said ”…In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. This is a very soothing admonition which kept the disciples of yore abreast of the inevitability of tribulations in life and the ability of Jesus to safeguard them. It is similarly soothing to us in this age and time.
Tribulations are a major part of life and they come in different forms and proportions. They can be hereditary (Genesis 3:1-24) or acquired (Genesis 4:1-14) in terms of origin and they are usually very discomforting. They affect everyone therefore, we shouldn’t be stunned by them (1 Peter 4:12). What is more, they don’t last forever and in most cases, they are ultimately beneficial (2 Corinthians 4:17, Romans 5:3-4).
So, what are tribulations and why does God permit them among Christians? Well, tribulations can be seen as ”severe trial or suffering”. They are synonymous with affliction, hardship, distress, adversity, etc. and God permit them for many reasons including:
1. To toughen us. As soldiers of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3), all Christians are bound to experience stints of tribulation to toughen us and to help us defeat our enemies which by the way, are spiritual and deadly (Ephesians 6:12). Please note that their defeat is not overly difficult as we have highly potent weapons at our disposal (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) which we can deploy against them with ease. However, we must seek to gain the skills essential to operate them well. This we can achieve through a continuous training program involving studying and correctly applying the words of God (highly potent (Hebrews 4:12)), fasting and prayers (Matthew 17:21) etc.
2. To prove our commitment to Him. For example, God allowed Job to go through series of tribulations to prove his commitment to Him. And in the process, he lost his children, wealth, dignity, health etc. still; he remained stoically committed to God. Soon, He restored all Job’s loses (Job 42:10) and blessed the latter part of his life more than the former (Job 42:12). Are you also experiencing tribulation(s) presently? If you are, God may be proving your commitment to Him hence don’t let Him down.
3. To show His power. In Acts 16:16-26, Paul and Silas were unduly beaten and imprisoned but they refused to ditch God because of their tribulation. Instead, they prayed and sang hymns to Him and He showed His power by causing a great earthquake which shook the prison to its foundations and made all its doors to open and everyone’s chains to loose. Are you facing any tribulation lately? If you are, fear not; God may be planning to show His power through you and He’ll save you (Isaiah 35:4) as He saved Paul and Silas.
4. To gain our attention. Saul (later Paul) was for a long time, too busy persecuting Christians to listen to God. Meanwhile, God needed him for His work on earth so; He subjected him to the tribulation of blindness (Acts 9:1-9) in order to gain his attention. He later served God meritoriously and to date, he is a celebrated Christian legend. Are you also too busy for God? Does your profession, business, wealth, family, education, ministry etc. take precedence over Him? If your answer is yes then, have a rethink very quickly because you cannot possibly succeed without Him (John 15:5). Please give Him your full attention henceforth!
Finally, kindly remember that God is with you at all times and He has no plans to do otherwise (Hebrews 13:5). With that at the back of your mind, please confront your tribulation(s) prayerfully and with great confidence that He will definitely help you at some point (Isaiah 41:10). In addition, please don’t stop serving and obeying God and He’ll reward you beyond your expectation in return (Deuteronomy 7:12-15). So shall it be in Jesus name. Amen.
Jesus is Lord!