“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Tribulation: (Gr. Thlipsis): Pressure, affliction, anguish, burdened, persecution, trouble
There is a doorway into the Kingdom of God. That doorway is a narrow, constricted opening into Eternal Life. It is a self-less, sacrificial, and consecrated path that is full of pressure, affliction, anguish, burdens, persecutions and trouble. For two millennia Saints of God have passed through that gate into the Kingdom. The Apostles taught the people the reality of hardship, the reality of difficulties, the reality of tribulation.
“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
For the Saint of God there is peace, the “peace that passes all understanding” (cf. Philippians 4:7). The peace that “keeps our hearts and minds” as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Who is our peace, and very life.
Not only do we have peace, but also “good cheer” (Gr. Tharseo): Courage, Comfort, Boldness, Confidence. What is the source of this Cheer? It is the knowledge that Christ has overcome the world as He said; and we have overcome the world in Him and He in us. “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; for greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).
For the Believer, tribulation is a way of life. It is our expectation, and experience. The Apostles wrote of tribulation, not as something to fear, rather as something in which to glory (cf. Romans 5:3). Tribulation is not something destructive of our faith; rather for the Believer tribulation “works patience”. In turn patience works experience and experience works hope. Our hope is not disappointed, because the love of God overflows in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 5:4-5).
We also know that nothing can separate us from the love of God, as the Apostle wrote to the Church at Rome: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword? As it is written, for Thy sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loves us” (Romans 8:35-37).
The reality of Tribulation is matched by the reality of the God of all Comfort, “Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort others who are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we are being comforted of God” (II Corinthians 1:4). This is the great wonder of the Presence of God in the Faithful. We become the vessel of Grace, Mercy, Peace, Love, Joy of the LORD, and the Comfort of the Holy Spirit. What a privilege it is to bear this in our mortal bodies as a sweet fragrance of Christ.
The Apostle was almost ecstatic in his boasting in the LORD as he lived out his faith and ministry in the Gospel. He says, “Great is my boldness toward you, great is my glorying of you; I am filled with comfort, I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation” (II Corinthians 7:4). Good cheer, exceeding joy, glorying in tribulation; that is extraordinary, but it is to be the new norm for the Believer in these Last Days, just as it was the old norm for the Apostles in the beginning of the Church after Pentecost.
Paul wrote to the Church at Thessalonica: “For verily when we were with you, we told you that we should suffer tribulation, even as it has come to pass, as you are well aware” (I Thessalonians 3:4).
Finally, it was the Apostle John in his Revelation of Jesus Christ, who wrote so poignantly, “I, John, who also am your Brother and Companion in Tribulation, and in the Kingdom and Patience of Jesus Christ, was in the Isle that is called Patmos, for the Word of God, and for the Testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9).
As a Believer living in our world today, living for the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ, living as a Witness (cf. Acts 1:8), living in Christ, and in whom Christ dwells–Christ, the Crucified–let it be said very plainly: You shall have Tribulation. Yes, to the Church in China, to the Church in Iran, in Cuba, in North Korea, in Afghanistan, and in the United States of America, be of good cheer, Jesus has Overcome the World!