do You Handle Tribulation?
Most believers in Christ throughout history of Christianity
have suffered tribulation. For most it has been an ever-present reality (1 Thess. 1:6; 2
The New Testament describes tribulation as the inevitable conflict
between the good news of Jesus Christ and a sinful hostile world dominated by Satan (John
16:33; 2 Cor. 1:8).
The word for tribulation (thilipsis) is found 45
times in the New Testament and is variously translated suffering, distress, affliction,
trouble, persecution, and tribulation.
Sometimes the context deals with hardships that are common to every
individual such as childbirth, illness, and common relationship.
Tribulation is something that all believers in the New
Testament experienced. It includes persecution (1 Thess. 1:6), imprisonment (Acts 20:23), derision
(Heb. 10:33), poverty (2 Cor. 8:13), sickness (Rev. 2:22), inner distress and sorrow
(Phil. 1:17; 2 Cor. 2:4), etc.
In a more narrow sense the word tribulation refers to the
hostile worlds reaction to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus said it is
inevitable and unavoidable that persecutions and tribulations will be present when the
gospel is preached and men are saved (Matt. 13:21).
What should the Christians response be to the ever present
reality of tribulations and persecutions in life?
The teachings of Jesus in the Olivet discourse (Matt. 24; 25; Mk. 13;
Lk. 21) are the only explicit descriptions and clear chronological references available in
the Bible to the tribulation Christians face (Matt. 24:3, 9). Jesus told the coming
destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70 (Matt. 24:15-21; Lk. 21:20-24).
Many of the recipients of the letters of the New Testament were being
persecuted (Heb. 10:37; 2 Cor. 8:2; Acts 11:19; Rev. 1:9; 2:9, etc).
Why do we experience tribulations?
God uses tribulations to discipline His children for their
unfaithfulness (Deut. 4:30). In the New Testament it is more often because we are faithful
to Christ that we re persecuted (Jn. 16:33; Acts 14:22; Rev. 1:9). Paul expected it in his
missionary work (2 Cor. 1:4, 6, 8; 2:4; 4:8, 17; 6:4-10; 7:4f; 11:16; 12:10; Eph. 3:13;
Phil. 1:17; 4:14; 1 Thess. 3:4, 7). Why should we expect anything different?
Tribulations are entirely within the will of God, and He uses them to
promote moral purity and godly character in the believer (Rom. 5:3-4).
The Great Tribulation serves to identify the
eschatological form of tribulation in a worldwide unprecedented time of trouble that will
usher in Christs return to earth in great glory (Mk. 13:19; Matt. 24:21; Rev. 2:22;
7:14; Lk. 21:23).
The victorious Christian in the midst of persecution and tribulation
is a constant theme in the New Testament. Also, Christ is able to reverse tribulation (2
When Christ comes in glory at the Second Coming, there will be a
glorious multitude of His followers from every nation, tribe, people and language who have
overcome (Rev. 7:14). Christ will have delivered them through the tribulation that began
with the first disciples (Matt. 24:9) and ends with the redemption of all who are gathered
at His Second Coming (vv. 29-31). However, the tribulation that affected Jerusalem in A.
D. 70 was only a microcosm of the great tribulation that will affect believers
throughout the history of the church and reach a climax just before the coming of Christ
Jesus set the example for us as to how we should handle tribulations
(1 Pet. 2:21-25). Our attitude should be one of faith in the goodness and justice of God
(James 1:2-4). They serve to prove us faithful and lead us to greater maturity in faith
Tribulations are inevitable for the believer in Christ. What should
be our attitude? Romans 5:3-5 reads, And not only this, but we also exult in our
tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven
character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of
God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to
us. Romans 8:35 says, Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will
tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or
Because we are suffering with Him in these tribulations, we shall
also be glorified together with Him (Rom. 12:12, 14, 17-21; 8:17, 37; 2 Cor. 1:4-5; 4:17).
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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