“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
Tribulation carries the idea of a burden, pressure, trouble, anguish. For some believers, it means heavy persecution. For others, it may mean a debilitating handicap, a stressful relationship or extremely difficult responsibilities. For all of us I would imagine, it relates in some way to COVID-19. Yes, I know we are tired of hearing about it, talking about it and dealing with it. But, there we see our need for patience in tribulation. The word translated ‘patient’ in the passage captures the the thought of bearing up under a heavy load. It is perseverance, fortitude, endurance.
Some children want to give up quickly in something that doesn’t come easily to them, or heavily challenges them. For a child learning to play a musical instrument, for example, a parent might mandate perseverance in learning a guitar chord when the child would rather move on to something else after the third lesson. The parent sees the long-term value and wisdom of the child’s patience under “duress” while the child just sees the short-term relief of not having to practice something that is difficult. We are often like that child. We would prefer that our various burdens in life be relieved instantly. We want out tribulations over with! God does not always have the same idea that we have. Our wise Father sees value in purposefully seeing to tribulations coming our way. He thinks it wise to give us opportunities to learn endurance.
Some sinful responses to trials are: anger that things aren’t going our way; grumbling and complaining; lack of thanksgiving for the blessings that we do have; focusing on our frustrating circumstances more than focusing on God’s love and doing His will; being unkind and impatient with others as a result of our hearts’ failings in the above sins.
If you, like me, are convicted of your sins in these areas, what is our hope? Do you know that we are saved by the patience, endurance and perseverance of another? Hebrews 12:1,2 tells us to run our Christian race with endurance, looking unto Jesus, who “endured the cross”. Jesus bore up under the heavy load of every day life in a sin-cursed world. He endured the many, many flaws of His disciples. He persevered faithfully even when sinful opposition targeted him time after time. Finally, He endured pain, shame and the wrath of God on the cross. His endurance of the cross is our ground of forgiveness for our sinful responses to tribulation. But, it is also our source of power, motivation and our example to follow.
So, seek patience in tribulation with this in mind:
-Your wise Heavenly Father has a purpose in your burden. It’s a better purpose than even learning the guitar. It involves His glory through the development of godly character in you.
-Learning submission to God in trial is a gateway to peace and rest in the soul.
-There is a joyful end to tribulation. It may end here in this life, but it will surely end in eternal glory to come.