We hear this phrase from people from time to time, usually in context to an angry exchange or tenuous situation. The truth is, we all have them, problems that is. Some are greater than others and some last longer than others, but in the end, problems are a part of life. Other words used to describe problems are ‘trials and tribulations.’ Again, some are greater than others and some last longer than others.
Jesus said it this way, “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
- The word used here to describe ‘tribulation’ (Greek: thlipsis) conveys the idea of affliction. It doesn’t mean that Christians are going through the great tribulation, only that believers will suffer affliction from time to time, whether it’s self-imposed or imposed upon them by another or a circumstance.
In essence, we all will have to suffer varying degrees of affliction or tribulation from time to time, it’s part of the ride in this life. The good news is that Jesus also suffered and overcame; if we are in Him and He is in us, we too can overcome our thlipsis also. When someone asks you, what’s your problem, you can tell them with certain confidence that whatever it is, it’s part of this ride.
Dr. Andy Woods says it this way, ‘There’s not a problem in my life that the Rapture can’t solve.’ This being the case for him means that it’s the case for us also if we are in Christ. The statement is made in jest and usually stated at the beginning of a lecture or teaching, but the fact remains, there is no problem in this life that we can have that won’t be solved by the Rapture; if we are in Christ. Key phrase, we need to be in Christ, we need to be saved in order to be counted worthy to have the Rapture solve all of our problems.
For believers living on this side of the Rapture, any tribulation, trial, problem, or tenuous circumstance that we may be enduring will be solved at the moment the Master returns for His Church. Our responsibility is to be faithful and endure till the end in all of our ‘afflictious’ circumstances. This may include a difficult family dynamic, a rough marriage, a hard job placement, or some deep physical (or emotional) pain we may be enduring. All of it can be rolled up into this statement made by Jesus who is telling us that from time to time in this life, we will have to endure afflictions. Thank God we don’t have to endure them as often as we could.
Whatever it is that you are looking forward to in the Rapture will most definitely solve any problems or difficult circumstances you may be facing today. This is why so many believers are looking forward to the Master’s return. These same spend time in prayer, Bible study, worship, and fellowship with other believers who are also longing for His appearing. A pastor, whom the Lord had abundantly blessed, once said, ‘I hope the Lord doesn’t return for a long time because I am really enjoying His blessings in my life.’ This statement, as inappropriate as it may be, flies in the face of this passage in John 16. It’s nice to have God’s blessings, but nothing in this life can compare to the glory that will be revealed in us when the Lord returns.
Paul said it this way, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” . Romans 8:18,19
- Our longing for the Lord doesn’t mean that we are tired, bored, or fed up with this life; it just means that we desire to be with the Lord more than we desire to be here. While we understand that while we are here we need to be doing the Master’s work, saving souls, discipling, and advancing God’s kingdom.
All of this is part and parcel to the Christian life and walk, but it too has a shelf life. We must never tire of doing right in our service to the Lord. We must work hard, endure afflictions, and place our faith in Jesus, everyday!