Acts 14:22 – They were confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting to persevere in the faith [that is, trusting and following Christ], since it is necessary that we enter the kingdom of God through many tribulations.
1Peter 4:12,19 – Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. …Even so, let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good.
Revelation 3:10 – Because you have kept my word to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to try those who live on the earth.
All the biography and history recorded in the Bible confirm that the storyline of God’s people through all of time is that “we enter the kingdom of God through many tribulations.” From Eve and Adam in Eden to the last generation in Revelation, all God’s beloved children have traveled the trail of travail on their journey to glory.
Christians in America likely live in the wealthiest, most comfort-rich society in all of human history, such that we may have drifted into regarding a pathway of “many tribulations” as the exception rather than the rule. But, brothers and sisters in the faith, the intensifying climate of trouble in our new normal is actually much more, well, normative, biblically and historically. Thus the Apostle Peter writes, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”
The good news, of course, is that “through persevering in trusting Christ through [our] many tribulations we enter the kingdom of God“, that “through enduring [in such tribulations] we will be kept from the [final] hour of trial coming on the whole world to try the people of the world“. We will have many troubles now, but in the end, through Christ, our destiny is deliverance from the ultimate and final tribulation–the judgment of God, and welcome into the forever kingdom of God.
How then shall we live? “Even so, let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good.” When we see hardship as the exception, it is easy for our focus to be on getting out from under it. But when we see it as the norm on our secure journey home, we find ourselves freed to do good.
What out-of-the-ordinary good will you do for someone today?