II Corinthians 1:3‑4
Tribulation means grievous affliction, distress, anguish, trouble, burdened, persecution, and suffering. The Bible teaches that the saints of God are going to suffer for the cause of Christ. "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations." (I Peter 1:6) "My, brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." (James 1:2) "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22b) "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (II Tim. 3:12)
Some may ask why do the saints have to have tribulation? Four basic reasons:
First, tribulation conforms us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). Therefore, Romans 8:28 says, "all things work together for good," and this includes tribulation and suffering for the cause of Christ. It may not be good at the time, but it works together for good, and conforms us to the image of Christ.
Second, we learn to obey the Lord through suffering. Heb. 5:8 says, "though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." If Jesus being the Son of God learned obedience through suffering, how much more do we need to learn to obey. Suffering teaches us to obey.
Third, we experience God when we suffer. Paul cried in Phil. 3:10, "That I might know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering being made conformable unto His death." Know means to experience. Paul knew that if he was to experience God and His power, he must also be a partaker of the sufferings of Christ. This is not referring to Christ's sufferings on the cross for our sin, but the daily persecutions He bore as He walked upon this earth. When we suffer for the cause of Christ, we experience Him because He shows up as the God of all comfort and comforts us in all our tribulation. (II Cor. 1:3‑4) Comfort means to encourage and is kin to the word for "comforter" which means "one along side to aid". This refers to the Holy Spirit. So, when we are in tribulation, the Holy Spirit is along side of us to encourage us and this gives us strength to keep on keeping on.
The fourth reason we must have tribulation is so that we can be able to comfort and encourage others who are in trouble. II Cor. 1:3-4 states, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." We cannot lead others where we have not been ourselves. Therefore, we cannot really comfort others unless we ourselves have experienced the comfort that only God gives as He brought us through a similar circumstance. For example, If someone's child has died, you can walk up to the casket and say, "You have my sympathy, I'm sorry," but if you have not buried a child, you can't really bring comfort to that parent. But if you had buried a child, you could walk up to that parent and say, "I understand. I've been there. Let me tell you how God brought me through it." Then that parent receives comfort as the God of comfort pulls them up in His arms and encourages and strengthens them because they know that you do understand.
I'm convinced that God allows us to go through some things in our life for the purpose of one day being able to put our arms around someone else and say, "God is faithful. He keeps His promises and will not fail you. I'm your friend, and I'm going to stay with you through this. I love you. I understand." That is what that person needs instead of having friends like Job had, who had it all figured out, yet they were wrong and were not of any comfort to Job. God is God and you can't figure Him out.
He operates the way He wants to.
The Lord told Peter he was about to enter tribulation (Satan's sifter) in Luke 22:31‑32, but He also told him to strengthen the brethren when (not if) he came through the sifter. I thank my Lord for all the times of trials and trouble that I went through in my life. It wasn't good at the time, but it worked for good; because now I can say to those in turmoil over their soul's condition, whatever state they may be in, "I understand, I am your friend, and I will stick with you and pray for you, and when the clouds settle, we'll stand and rejoice together in His victory."
Folks, I write this for you who are going through some things right now that you may not understand. All things work together for good. God is in control. He never makes a mistake. I just want to tell you, you're my friend and if I can ever be of help, please feel free to write or call (270) 527‑3864. I can tell you how God brought me through and that He will bring you through, too. To Him be glory forever and ever. AMEN!
THE PERSUADER - June-July, 1989