November 23, 2014

Tribulation and Cheer

Written by:
Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy

Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).

“In the World Ye Shall Have Tribulation”

No Christian is fully shielded from troubles. Jesus says plainly, “In the world ye shall have tribulation”. Jesus has not promised His followers a life totally free from sorrows, poverty, toil, sickness, slander, persecution or any of the common ills of mankind. Instead, He promises every follower a “cross”.

You are not promised the admiration of the unbelieving world. In fact, you should not expect or accept much favour from the world. Worldly people will not gather around to admire our piety or our devotion to the Lord. They may like a Christian in return for some favours from him, but they cannot love him for being a Christian. If the world does end up admiring and supporting a Christian, it may be either because it has made a mistake about him or the Christian has compromised!

Beware of the “kiss of Judas” with which Christ was betrayed, and with which you will be betrayed, unless you are well on your guard. In and from the world, ye shall have tribulation. When the world appears to love you, understand that it is in effect “hating” you more cordially than ever, but is carefully baiting its trap to catch you and ruin you. John cautioned us, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 John 3:13). It is no surprise that the world hates Christians because it hates their Master. Jesus said, “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil” (John 7:7); “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). The world’s hatred for and opposition to Christians are a reflection of its prince’s hatred for Christ and His beloved ones. The enmity between the “seed of the serpent” and the “seed of the woman” still continues. Make no mistake, the serpent’s nature has not changed. He is a vile deceiver and destroyer still. As soon as he sees in you a devotion to Christ and His truth, he hates you passionately.

We are all born into a measure of troubles. Now after being born again, we are introduced to a second set of tribulations. From the kingdom of this world whereof Satan is lord, Christ tells us we must expect fierce opposition and contend against it victoriously if we are to enter into everlasting rest.

Some Christians may have been enjoying a life of comfort and prosperity. Like Job, they may also have been increasing in riches and dwelling at ease with a “hedge” about them. They may be thinking that they have no tribulation to bear. But may such Christians be forewarned that when the devil turns against them, great may be their trials!

Unfortunately, many a Christian has grown very fond of the world. If we have no troubles in this world, we would become too comfortable with this world of sin. So through trials, the Lord “stirs up” our worldly tabernacle, that we may remember this world is not our eternal home. He allows trials to come our way that we may realise we are not of this world, but pilgrims here on earth. Soon we must be up and away to that “glorious land”. When tribulations in this world arrive, let our thoughts and desires be turned towards the heavenly city of our God. Thanks be to God for the tribulation which shakes our thoughts out of things on the earth and directs them towards things above!

“But Be of Good Cheer”

To comfort all His beloved ones who are troubled in this world, the great Conqueror of the world says, “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Remembering Jesus as the overcomer of the world will help us to be cheerful even in afflictions.

Our Lord was an overcomer both in life and death. No adversity was strong enough to distract Him from accomplishing all that His Father had appointed Him to do. Nothing could overcome Him, but He overcame them all.

If you take time to study our Lord’s life while He was on this earth, you will see that He was a victor in all circumstances. A deep calm always pervaded His spirit, whether it was in the face of men’s approbation or censure. He never lost His self-control. Nothing could frustrate Him that He might fail to perform His assignments perfectly to His Father‘s pleasure. He conquered all circumstances and did everything perfectly. To hold Him in our view through our life’s journey is indeed a wonderful experience.

Our Lord also overcame the world by His fearlessness of the world’s elite men. When the Pharisees, who had no regard for Him, confronted Him with sneer and disgust, He declared God’s truth, rebuking and refuting them. Like a true Master, He outwitted them with His wise answers and actions. Their opposition could only prove that He is all-powerful and all-wise. Even the threats of Pilate the governor, could not intimidate Him. He remained calm and unperturbed when He was tried by Pilate. Even in death, He was a victor, for He ministered divine comfort and hope to the repenting criminal who was crucified beside Him. Finally, He overcame death and grave in His resurrection. Thus, He has defeated our last enemy, even death!

Since the Lord Jesus has tasted the severity of earthly tribulations and also the exultation of victory, we can trust Him to give us cheer in this hostile world. He understands the agony of our sufferings. He knows what it means to be rejected by people. He empathises with all our problems, because He has experienced them. Now as an overcomer of every tribulation that He has faced, He assures us that if we follow His Word, we can “be of good cheer”.

Jesus wants us not to give up our resolve to live for God’s glory. Even as He had not neglected the work that His Father had given Him to do while He was on earth, despite being rejected and afflicted, we should also press forward. He wants us to set our eyes upon Him and follow His example.

We must look to Him not only as an example in overcoming our trials, but also as our strength and help to overcome our afflictions. He is able to see us through, for He is our victorious Captain. So, by trusting in Him, let’s persevere; He will see us through.

If we lose sight of our victorious Lord in our tribulations, we will lose heart. We need to remember that it is His desire that we have joy even in our tribulations. He is neither ignorant nor inactive in our problems. He is with us, and He is actively at work through our afflictions and problems in making us better and happier Christians.

So let’s persevere, and don’t let our hearts be invaded by sorrows and fears. The problems are there to test our mettle and spirit in following Jesus. Fear not the troubles, for our Lord has walked that way ahead of us. Keep your steps behind Him, trusting and obeying Jesus through your troubles. Remember that as you endure, you are following the One who has overcome the tribulation of this world. If you keep your trust in Him, you can be of good cheer, because victory through Christ is in sight.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church adheres to the system of faith commonly known as the “Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
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