John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. We will all go through tribulation, but let us never neglect to understand the purpose. Could it be that it is because God is jealous over His possession? Can tribulation be punishment, or a way to draw us back to Him?
Does God have a right to be jealous? After all, everything has been made by Him and for Him. He created it all and has the absolute legal documents: “The Word”, for total ownership to everything that is. When God sees a nation or people walk away from Him he does not close His eyes with blindness. He has a plan for redemption that might come into view as a detour to man at times. We must not forget His jealousy for His people and for everything that is intended for Him. Deuteronomy 4:24 For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. Within that jealousy there is a fount of love that consumes and a desire so deep that He was willing to see His dearest Son, martyred; providing a way to get back a creation that had gone off completely into a fallen kingdom of destructive evil, right from the presence of God.
At times, God offers ways to bring back those who abandon faith and faithfulness that seem so difficult. At other times, it seems God just lets them go. A backslidden child of God goes through much deeper things than that which meets the eye of the saint. He goes through a long period where he feels so rejected by God. He strengthens himself with blame and imaginations to justify his own failure. Things get gloomy within the heart, so dreadfully that there is almost no sense of God anywhere. Sin now becomes a way of life. Guilt and sorrow are covered over with new desires to satisfy the abandoned presence of God. Some throw themselves deeper into work and things to entertain their troubled heart.
Many seek for hope everywhere except turning back to God because Satan has caused them to believe there is no hope of returning. This form of tribulation is a torment that blinds spiritual trust found only in Christ. This loneliness of false hope found in things other than Christ sustains nothing but difficulty in the midst of deteriorating adversity. Backslidden mankind must at once be honest and declare an end to this destructive path. This path is filled with sorrow and abandonment from God’s presence. We must wake from our sleep and take responsibility for what is happening. Blame cannot rule our life nor can hurts be nurtured any longer.
There are two kinds of tribulation. One “worketh patience” as well as endurance and will draw you closer to God, enriching your faith – though it is also very difficult. This kind will never drive you from God. Oh yes, it will cause you many questions and deep despair at times. My observation for many years is that Christians don’t care much to have an understanding of why they go through tribulation. It is extremely important to recognize which one is being experienced. There is a world of difference between the two. The one is an endearment to Christ; the other tribulation is a form of punishment that is not chastening from the Lord.
One of the ways to gain understanding as to which one we are experiencing is to recognize its origin. Was it after a spiritual breakthrough or great move of God where this all began? Was there a violation committed of any principle in the Bible? I have observed many times that people do not discern what God is saying while going through tribulation. Some battle and strive to conquer while it continues to fall apart all around them. These are people in disobedience that have caused their own demise, insisting on their own folly. This is a brutal condition and it will take the form of a brazen gloomy cast of helplessness and darkness over the person. This type of tribulation is often the result of us causing trouble against God’s people.
In the following verses, we read about the two different kinds of tribulation. 2 Thessalonians 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: V.5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: V.6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
The holy and spiritual kind is designed to bring patience and faith, and is mostly accompanied by persecution for right doing. It is one thing to suffer for righteousness sake and completely another thing to suffer for wrong doing. As we go through so many difficult things in our lives, let us always seek to be clear on why we face tribulation. Is it because of obedience or disobedience?