Saturday, May 16, 2015

Tribulations—bench-presses for the spirit

TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 16:16-33

TO CHEW ON: "These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Given the choice, we would probably pick peace over tribulation. But according to Jesus, those that are "in Me" will have both. For though in Christ we have the peace that comes from knowing our relationship with God is right, until we die, we have no choice but to be "in the world" where we will experience tribulation.

[Tribulation - thilipsis is "pressure, oppression, stress, anguish, tribulation, adversity, affliction, crushing, squashing, squeezing, distress. Imagine placing your hand in a stack of loose items and manually compressing them. That is thilipsis, putting a lot of pressure on that which is free and unfettered. Thilipsis is like spiritual bench-pressing. The word is used of crushing grapes or olives in a press" - Dick Mills, "Word Wealth," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible p. 1474.]

I know there are degrees of tribulation, and that the tribulation we in western nations experience is a fraction of what Christians in some places go through. Yet we do sense it. We find ourselves at odds with our society's beliefs about beginnings (everything just happened by chance versus God creating), of morals and ethics (society's changing consensus versus the Bible's standard) and of what really matters in life (one's happiness versus God's "Well done"). We even find ourselves squeezed and pressed by ourselves: "For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not do .... O wretched man that I am..." Romans 7:15,24.

It's easy to view tribulation as bad and something to be got free from at all costs. But there is another way to look at it. It can be a means to make us vital and strong in the way situps and treadmill running and bench-press exercises strengthen our bodies. Oswald Chambers says:

"Life without war is impossible either in nature or in grace. The basis of physical, mental, moral, and spiritual life is antagonism. This is the open fact of life.

Health is the balance between physical life and external nature, and it is maintained only by sufficient vitality on the inside against things on the outside ....

Morally it is the same. Everything that does not partake of the nature of virtue is the enemy of virtue in me ....

And spiritually it is the same. Jesus said, 'In the world you shall have tribulation.' .... I have to learn to score off the things that come against me, and in that way produce the balance of holiness; then it becomes a delight to meet the opposition" - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, December 4th reading (emphasis added).

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to grow stronger by the way I face the tribulation that comes my way. Amen.

MORE: Tribulation around the world is a website that disseminates news about the persecution and tribulation experienced by Christians around the world.

The website is an initiative of International Christian Concern which "acts as a bridge between believers in free countries and believers in persecuted countries by sending encouragement, prayers and aid over the bridge while bringing back news, requests and love" (from the "Get the most out of page).

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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