We know to expect kingdom tribulations, but that doesn’t make them easy to overcome. Our faith takes a beating, but the Word and the exhortation of other believers will carry us through and establish us in the kingom. The blood of the Lamb and word of our testimony will always bring the victory Jesus has already accomplished for us.
strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
It’s been a rough few months with health issues, relentless spiritual attack, car thieves, and sharing in the ongoing trials of people I care about. So today’s verse has poignant relevance, reminding me that tribulations are part of our Christian walk. We all know this, but it’s easy to forget in the good times. When the proverbial hits the fan, it’s tempting to give up. Or give in to the doubts self and the enemy immediately throw our way. The problem, I think, is that green pastures and still waters seem to lull us into complacency. Instead of seeing them as a place to recover and rest, we come to expect them. But Jesus Himself told us that kingdom tribulations were part and parcel of following Him. He mentions it more than once, so they are ongoing. They rise up time and again and attack our faith.
Expecting and accepting kingdom tribulations.
Dealing with this without sliding backwards require that expect and accept them. Expecting them doesn’t mean that we go around looking under every rock. We must never live our lives in fear of what might lurk around the corner. Expecting means that we recognise that they will come and are an ordinary part of our lives. But we must rejoice in the good times and use them to prepare for kingdom tribulations. Times of rest and peace should be directed towards strengthening our relationship with God and our knowledge of the Word. It doesn’t mean we close our eyes to reality. But it does mean that we focus on God with the expectation that somewhere down the line, we’ll encounter trials. Expectation is living life to the full in the here and now. It’s making the most of good moments, knowing that could change. Without expectation, we leave ourselves vulnerable.
Acceptance is powerful spiritual response. It isn’t about rolling over and accepting what happens. Rather, it’s accepting that it has happened and fixing our eyes on God. When we encounter a barrage of resistance and difficulty, the temptation is to crumble. Instead, He wants us to accept the reality but not what seems like the inevitable outcome. Kingdom tribulations are always temporary. The ‘this too will pass’ adage reminds us that God is in control. He will never allow trials to continue beyond His purposes. It may feel like He’s no longer in control, but that’s not the truth. When we accept the trial, we acknowledge that His Word is true. He said they would happen and they have. That alone is enough to remind us that He will never leave us or forsake us. Acceptance is working through the problem, not fighting the fact that it happened.
Kingdom tribulations establish us in the kingdom.
Revelation 12:11 says: And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. God gives us the tools we need to overcome in kingdom tribulations. Their purpose is to turn us aside from the kingdom. The enemy will do all he can to crush our faith and separate us from God. It’s the devil’s prime agenda for every child of God. But the blood of Jesus and our testimony will defeat him every time. When we establish the victory bought on the cross through our testimony, we establish victory in our lives. We establish ourselves in the kingdom. Each tribulation roots us more firmly in our faith in what Jesus has already accomplished. The enemy cannot stand against a believer who asserts the victory bought by the blood of Jesus.
Of course, not all kingdom tribulations can be laid at the devil’s door. The truth is that we all too often do his work for Him. Many of our struggles are the result of self and our own wrong choices. Our tribulations are often the consequences of these. While this battle is very different to spiritual attack, the outworking is the same. The solution is also the same – the blood of the lamb and word of our testimony. Each time we defeat self and assert the lordship of Christ, we establish ourselves more firmly in the kingdom. Jesus didn’t only give us the authority to defeat the powers of darkness. He also gives us the power to overcome self. Every time we choose God over self, we strengthen our position in Christ. He is the kingdom manifest in us. Choosing Him keeps us in Him and the kingdom.
Kingdom tribulations and strengthening our souls.
This is a vital component in dealing with kingdom tribulations. The soul is not the spirit. It is the mind, emotions, and body. Often, these are the things that are our own worst enemies. They are our points of vulnerability. My greatest struggle against the resent relentless spiritual attacks was the issue of my health. While chronically ill, it was almost impossible to stop the negative thoughts and emotions that battered constantly. A lot of the time, it felt like the ‘chicken and the egg’ scenario. Which comes first. To strengthen my soul, I needed to strengthen my spirit. But to get to a place where I could focus on spiritual things, I needed my soul strong. My soul weakness was as great an enemy as the spiritual forces ranged against me. At a time like this, it’s easy to forget that Christ in us will do what we cannot.
In His grace, God reminded me that Jesus is my strength and is made perfect in my weakness. To strengthen the soul, we must always first strengthen the spirit. The one advantage of being ‘man down’ is that there’s nothing to do except pray. And declare the Word. And stand on the promises. This is how we strengthen the soul. The Word of God is healing to all our flesh, and He proved that. Christ in us is an enormously powerful blessing. When we’re all out of ‘me,’ He’s ready and willing to step in and be what we cannot. He will be our strength when we have none. His Word will accomplish what we cannot. Reading the Word, speaking the Word, and praying the Word is God’s way of strengthening the soul in kingdom tribulations. And, when we see Him work in the soul, it strengthens the spirit.
Faith and exhortation in kingdom tribulations.
I often ponder the strangeness of faith. It’s powerful but completely beyond our ability to fully understand. That’s because it’s supernatural, not natural. It only operates when we need it, yet it needs to be continually fed. Especially in kingdom tribulations. When we’re going through tough times, we need to do all we can to feed our faith all the time. Faith that doesn’t get three square meals a day – and a good number of snacks in between – will quickly wilt. God’s Word is our first ‘menu’ for faith, which comes by hearing the Word of God. When times are rough, the last thing we feel like doing is munching on the Word. We don’t have the time, the energy, or the desire. Yet it’s absolutely critical to keep our faith working when we need it most. The less we feel like doing it, the more we need it.
Exhortation is what I think of as the in between ‘snacks’ that top up our faith. It’s not other believers simply patting us on the back and encouraging us. It’s when they come alongside and speak or pray the Word with us. When going through kingdom tribulations, we need others to ‘fill in the gaps’ in our faith. They remind us of who and what God is and what He has done and can do. Not only that, they remind us that we’re not alone. Human beings have a tendency to fall into the trap of believing they’re alone or their circumstances are unique. Having others speak into our lives creates balance and perspective. It takes our attention off self. When we start to see things from a kingdom perspective, we look back to Jesus. Our faith is restored when our focus is restored to His victory and glory.
Kingdom tribulations and eternity.
This is our hope and joy – eternity with Christ. Kingdom tribulations are temporary. We can expect them and accept them, but must never grant them power to change our eternity. Our trials will pass and will establish us in the eternal kingdom. This is something we can hold onto in even our darkest moments. It’s what we have been promised, and God always keeps His promises. Our response to difficulties is what determines the future. We cannot change what happens to us, but we can change two things. One is what we allow it to do to us. The second is what we do with it. We have the choice to roll over or to look to Jesus. He already has the victory, and His kingdom is eternal. Nothing can affect that unless we allow it to. He will, if we turn to Him, establish us in His kingdom.
Thank You, Jesus, for the victory that is already ours in You. Forgive us if we’ve allowed weakness to erode our faith. Strengthen us with Your perfect strength, and raise up others to exhort us. Help us to remember that our kingdom tribulations are temporary but Your kingdom is eternal.