By Stephen Leonard
“In the world you will have tribulation! But take heart I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Many of us are worried about the terrible invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We have brothers and sisters in the Lord who are under fierce and deadly attack, fierce oppression from freedom. Russia has attacked a sovereign country with no justification except the lust of its leader(s). It is real persecution from a bully of colossal proportion. But tribulation is measured not only in the bullets, bombs, and tanks which maim and kill; tribulation in the world takes many various forms.
Tribulation is, first of all, spiritual warfare attacking the mind, heart, and soul with things like depression, discouragement, loneliness, psychological mania. Another kind of tribulation affects your health, because your physical body suffers sickness, disease, and accidents. Tribulation is an evil beyond wars and rumors of wars, such as physical oppression, sexual trafficking, abortion or even the evil done to yourself through substance and other addictions.
In any case, Jesus told us, in no uncertain terms, that in this world you will face tribulation; some because the world is a desperately fallen place, and others due to your public, professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is genuinely hated by much of the world, and therefore He is the reason the world hates you with severe hatred as you publicly identify with Him.
Unbelievers, and even some believers, are often asking, “How can a good God allow persecution and tribulation in His creation?” This question usually comes from those minds of proud, self-absorbed, and uncomprehending souls that deny the existence of sin in themselves and the world; sin has totally infected you and the world in which you live, whether or not you even acknowledge such exists.
Sin is! And it is a ruinous poison of human existence! Consequently, there is no understanding of the God who is, because of sin. Sin totally blinds the wary eye to God. So this is a foolish question by mere jars of clay negatively judging the very Potter who made them. Man is a creature who owes all to his eternal Creator, the only God, a God who happens to be good!
Sin is the reason for tribulation in the world. What man needs to ask instead is, “What do I personally do about sin?” It is the true question worth asking. And, Jesus is your only answer!
“Help me then in every tribulation so to trust your promises, O Lord, that I lose not faith’s sweet consolation offered me within your holy Word. Help me, Lord, when trial and trouble meeting, e’er to take, as from a father’s hand, one by one, the days, the moments fleeting, til I reach the promised land.”
(1st verse of Carolina Sandell Berg’s hymn, “Day by Day and with Each Passing Moment,” 1865)