Jesus Christ verified in pointed manner that “in the world you shall have tribulation.” It is a truth that cannot be denied literally, but it is a truth that is certainly all too often argued attitudinally, especially by people of the church. When it comes to experiencing tribulations, it should actually prevail upon the people of the church to keep Christ in mind concerning those specific sufferings that singe the soul.
The believer in Jesus Christ must understand that sufferings in life are par for the Christian course in life. The Apostle Paul verified it in pointed manner, too, when he informed the people of the churches “…that we must through much suffering enter the Kingdom of God.”
He was not saying that there was much hardship we had to go through before we could become a part of the Kingdom of God. Rather he was pointing out that there was much tribulation to experience BECAUSE of being in the Kingdom of God. In other words, he affirmed to the Christians, “This is what you can expect to experience.” For, just because one becomes a Christian does not mean that all pain, suffering, or persecution is removed from the Christian equation. As a matter of fact, the Book of I Peter makes it clear that sometimes God’s people suffer.
This we can know from the revelation of Scripture is that the purpose of God is to forcibly interject the authority of His Kingdom on this earth in the face of the blatant hold and dominance of the present manifested evil. The Kingdom of God will eventually be fully established in accordance to God’s will and timing.
However, we must keep in mind that the beginning time of the interjection of the Kingdom of God on this earth point-specifically began with Jesus Christ and His suffering. He suffered tribulations while He lived, and He most certainly endured the immense sufferings of the Cross.
The truth is that the Kingdom of God was verified and established of the bases of the divine suffering and tribulation of the Lord, and it continues toward the goal of divine fruition on the actual sufferings of the people of God. That is why Apostle Paul said, “For Thy sake, we are killed all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
But, this why we should keep Christ in mind concerning what we might go through. Paul presses us hard on the issue of suffering experiences when He said that they 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 what he or we had / have to endure was intended to supplement the sufferings of Christ. The Lord’s sufferings were very sufficient on that account. Rather, he was indicating that sufferings that Paul himself experienced were for the sake of God’s ongoing authoritative actions on this earth through the church. That is why Paul openly declared, “We now rejoice in my sufferings…”
There is a proper spiritual mindset to carefully maintain when going through the sufferings which cause those dark nights of the soul. Paul reminded another congregation, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but to also suffer for His sake. We are to remember that there is a “fellowship of suffering” with Jesus Christ when we enter into relationship with Him.
Thus, this produces a rub that is often confusing to the people of the church. Although there is joy, peace, and blessings involved with life in Christ, there still there are times when sufferings confront us. But, instead of turning bitter on God about it, keep in mind that God is using it in His way to continue the line toward the full establishment of His Kingdom on earth. In no uncertain terms, much of the Bible informs us what we may expect. But, it also informs us how we should consider it and deal with it.
That is why Revelation 21:4 is so sweet to call to mind, 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 any more 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.