By: Steve Shirley
(Acts 14:22) ... we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
As Christians, tribulation and persecution are to be expected. Jesus told us this in (Mt 5:10-12)(verses below) and said we are blessed because of them. These trials help us to become more like Christ. They help work patience in us. They help us to lean on God and trust Him.
We need to understand that God is in control, and that our trials strengthen us. He promises to work all things for our good (Rom 8:28), and He keeps us in our suffering (2 Tim 1:12). There is nothing that occurs that He does not allow (1 Pet 3:17). Job is an example of this (Job 1:6-12, 2:1-7). Satan could do nothing to Job without God allowing it. Peter is another example. Jesus told Peter, "Satan has asked permission to sift you as wheat" (Lk 22:31).
Sometimes God is behind our trials. Paul is an example of this with God giving him a "thorn in the flesh" (2 Cor 12:7) to keep him from being proud. Paul asked for it to be removed 3 times and God said "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Cor 12:9). Paul then responded, because of this "I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Cor 10:9). Sometimes God uses trials to discipline us (Heb 12:5-11).
Our trials strengthen our witness and testimony if we persevere through. They help us comfort others (2 Cor 1:3-7) because we have been there. If people see us being strong in the midst of them, and know that God is who we are relying on for that strength, it is a powerful witness. Paul and Silas are a great example of this in (Acts 16:23-25). After being beaten with rods and thrown into prison with their feet in stocks, they were praying and singing praises to God "and the other prisoners were listening to them." What a witness! Paul encountered much suffering in his work for the Lord, yet he rejoiced and persevered (see: Paul's Trials).
Praise and tribulation should go hand in hand. God called David a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22). I believe one of the main reason for this was, although David sinned greatly and suffered many trials, he continually praised the Lord (Ps 35:28, 71:6) in the midst of them (Ps 42:11, 43:5). The word praise is associated with David more than any other person in the Bible. If you are facing trials, follow David's example. Put on some praise and worship music and sing to the Lord. God inhabits the praises of His people (Ps 22:3). I have noticed that most often, in church for example, those who are doing the most praising are those who God has helped come through the most trials. They are definitely for our good over time if we trust Him!
Rejoice in Tribulation:
(James 1:2-4)(NASB) Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. (3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (4) And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(Rom 5:3-4) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope.
(Jn 16:33) These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
(2 Cor 12:9-10) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
(2 Cor 4:8-9) We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; We are perplexed, but not in despair; (9) Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
(Rom 8:35-39) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter, (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Gal 6:9) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
(Rom 8:18) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Rejoice in Persecution:
(Matt 5:10-12) Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (11) Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (12) Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
(Jn 15:18-20) If the world hate you, ye know it hated me before it hated you. (19) If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (20) Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
(Acts 5:41) And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
(1 Pet 1:6-7)(NASB) In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary you have been distressed by various trials. (7) so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(1 Pet 2:20)(NASB) For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
(1 Pet 3:14) But if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
I close with this important verse to remember:
(2 Cor 4:16-18) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. (17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (18) While 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.
May the joy and peace of the Lord increase as you trust in God and see His hand upon your life!