“And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.'”
“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
Gee, thanks, Paul!
In my quest to know God better, I have asked Him a lot about suffering. Many years ago, as a young Christian, the prevalent thought was that as a Christian we rise above the suffering. You might remember…Name it, Claim it; prosperity message; suffering means you don’t have enough faith…Remember?
The deceiver is like that. He takes a little bit of truth, dips it in what feels good and turns out deception. Jesus DID bring us abundant life – things that money cannot buy. By His stripes we ARE healed, absolutely – but I have learned He is sovereign. We CAN ask anything in Jesus’ Name – the Name above all names – but our Lord is NOT a puppet!
Okay. Got that off my chest.
How can there be a victory without a battle? How can there be a triumph without a trial? How can we possibly understand God’s amazing grace without the need for comfort, provision or strength?
All good questions.
Suffering happens on this earth.
But I have good news. In John 16:33 Jesus promises that “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Now the part I am busting at the seams to tell you. The word for tribulation is a Greek word, thlipsis (thlip-sis) meaning pressure, stress, anguish, squashing, crushing. Isn’t that a great way to describe our trials and tribulations? I KNOW! Can I get a witness?
As I have sought the Lord on this subject He showed me a beautiful truth. In the instructions for the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the Israelites were instructed to keep the Golden Lampstand burning at all times. Its purpose was to illuminate the evidence of God beneath the tent of the Tabernacle. The oil had to be pure, made fresh daily and it was obtained by CRUSHING olives in an olive press. The CRUSHING produced the pure oil for the Golden Lampstand.
Our times of crushing (tribulation) produces the oil of the Holy Spirit which illuminates the evidence of God in our lives WHEN we walk through the fire with the Lord. When we strive to glorify Him in all things, when we choose to trust Him even though things don’t make sense, when we press in and hide beneath the shadow of His wing until the storm passes by – THEN the Light of Christ burns bright to illuminate the evidence of God.
Can you see it? Can you find purpose in your trials? When we can see the face of Jesus in the midst of anguish and pain we are entering the Kingdom of God. We are learning the very essence of the Father. We begin to understand His mysteries. Our faith becomes sure. Our Light shines bright.
Jesus suffered. Moses cried out, “Lord, just take me. These are Your children, not mine!” Elijah declared, “It is enough, Lord!” If the very Son of God suffered, who are we to breeze through life in a fairy tale?
About seven years ago I went through a period where I could not even pray! All I could say was, “Jesus. Jesus.” But my heart said it all. I was determined to go through the fire with my Lord. Forget the theology! I needed Jesus. He met me at the point of my need and poured out His grace on me. My battle became a victory. My trial became a triumph. And my crushing produced the oil of the Holy Spirit.
God showed up. The oil of the Holy Spirit produced by my crushing proved it. I saw Him in the Light.
Blessed Lord, You are beautiful beyond description. Your grace is simply amazing and the fellowship of Your suffering is life-changing. Help us find our peace in You. Help us trust Your heart when we cannot trace Your hand. Open our eyes to see You in the midst of our trials. Give us courage to endure the crushing so that the world might see You in our lives.